The Kingdom Post

Jamie Foxx (I hate that extra ‘x’) does a terrific job in his role as Ronald Fluery, head of an FBI special investigations unit, sent overseas to look into a terrorist attack that claimed one of the departments own. He takes with him a team of experts as they attempt to solve the case as to who was behind the bombings. They are met with obstacles on all fronts ranging from local resistance, red tape and even U.S. disapproval (personified in the always excellent Jeremy Piven). The film’s main strength comes from the fleshed out characters and their teamwork dynamic. Jenifer Garner, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman (!) do phenomenal jobs backing up Foxx’s lead and come across as an adept team with a lot of history. It’s Ashraf Barhom’s role as Faris Al Gahzi that really steals the show though, as he performs remarkably well in a role that seems to be written in search of an Oscar nod. A nod goes out to the introductory package as well, which is the best since Casino Royal and was fantastically put together to open the movie perfectly.

The Kingdom is a gripping film that goes where many films choose not to, and offers an engaging view of the war effort and those not often highlighted. Considering the subject matter however, I feel that the many areas in which the film succeeds are not the areas it intended to. While terrorist attacks and mass murders in the Middle East are both fuel for a conflict and motivation for a plot, The Kingdom suffers in its first half as the cast struggle to accomplish much of anything in their investigation. Foxx and his team are unwillingly after an entire religion not a specific villain, and the goal seems as overly optimistic and unsolvable as the war itself. However, half way through the movie a plot twist results in a rescue mission and explosive shootouts that both entertain and enthrall. I felt guilty enjoying these elements of the film over the more serious issues presented, but as a film, the constant reminders of the dire situation were doing little besides mirroring a daily news report on the middle eastern crisis.

I feel bad enjoying the movie’s character interaction and explosive street fights more than the more pertinent, global conflicts presented, but not sorry enough not to really enjoy the film as a whole. And while I think the more successful efforts eclipse the film’s attempt and conveying the horror of the war; this is also the first film I’ve seen in a theater that had the audience walking out in total silence.

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