Sunday, November 16, 2008

THE KINGDOM

THE KINGDOM
Jaime Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven, Chris Cooper, Ashraf Barhom, Ali Suliman


"Under fire. Under pressure. Out of Time."


HBO




This film potentially started out on the right tone. Its opening credits showed images tracing the history of the Saudi kingdom vis a vis its relations with the USA. Then a lapse in security causes an explosion at the compound housing Americans working in the kingdom. This incident sends ripples all the way to the State Department in Washington. The FBI, the lead agency that investigates criminal activities involving American subjects abroad is keen to dispatch an investigative team as soon as possible. But their trip isn't officially sanctioned by the US government nor the Saudi government. Somehow they still 'force' their way into the kingdom. Once there, they are placed under tight security and their every move is closely monitored by the Saudi authorities. They are given only 5 days to 'gather' evidence, inspect the bombing site and try to catch the 'bad guys'. Is that enough? Hardly so. Because what ensues during the rest of the film is a test on the FBI team's patience in dealing with the Saudi authorities, their limited time as well as the growing threat from extremists out to annihilate every American in the kingdom.

I noticed two glaring flaws in the way they presented the characters in this film. (1) No one in the team sent to investigate the housing complex bombing in Riyadh spoke Arabic (2) The only woman in the team didn't wear the appropriate abaya to cover up. Alright given that the mission was assembled in a hurry yet still these important concessions are not to be taken lightly especially since they are intruding on foreign land. A country steeped in traditional values that need to be respected in all aspects.

Other than that, the film is loaded with enough action scenes (gunfights, explosive car chases), some dramatic moments tinged with the portrayal of humane characters to guarantee a big plus in the entertainment factor. Just try to ignore the political ramifications this film implies on the failure of the US to effectively implement its brand of democracy in the Middle East.

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