Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Kingdom


The Kingdom is not a very good film in spite of being relevant with the times. It’s a donut because it started big and ended great, but it had no fulfilling content in between.

There is an historical recap at the opening credits where you’ll get some highlights encompassing almost a hundred years of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ; from the colonial days to the crash landing planes of September 11.

There was a small portion in that intro about oil which got my interest. Tackling it would have given the film more personality in the sense many people are already alleging that American interests are not about peace and democracy in the Middle East but securing oil interests. Saudi is after all the leading oil producer in the world.

Issues of that nature, sadly, were not tackled. After the opening credits, history lesson, and a perfectly executed terrorist attack in the opening sequence the rest of the film is all about explosions, guns, and CSI-like investigations.

Jamie Foxx plays, Agent Ronald Fleury, the head of the FBI team sent over to Saudi to investigate an attack against US citizens. He’s a great actor with an Oscar statue to prove it. I liked him best in his role as a cab driver in Collateral. He and Tom Cruise had good chemistry as taxi driver and cold blooded assassin exchanging (or debating) views on life and morality.

There was a nice opportunity for a love-hate relationship in The Kingdom in Agent Fleury and Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom). An FBI agent and a Saudi colonel; worlds apart; they could have done some meaningful passionate exchanges of concerning both cultures and yet there was none.

Chris Cooper (Agent Grant Sykes), Jennifer Garner (Agent Janet Mayes), and Jason Bateman (Adam Leavitt), round up the rest of the FBI team. I like Cooper and he was his usual best. Can’t say the same for the former Alias star; her performance was fine but the role itself lacked depth. If Alias fans are hoping for some kick-ass performance from their hero they will be disappointed because there just isn’t much of her.

Jason Bateman is just an odd man out for me. They were trying to have him as comic relief and his humor is just wrong in the situation they are in. Overall the collection of actors just didn’t blend as well as they should.

There is nothing spectacular, no suspenseful cat and mouse chase. When you finish watching this film you will get to the conclusion that ineptitude and perhaps cultural backwardness is the chief hurdle in the investigations; and it takes an ‘enlightened’, capable, FBI agent to truly get to the bottom of a terror attack. All Agent Fleury had to do was to give one honest statement to a Saudi Royal and that’s it. The investigation goes on high octane.

But if I were made to choose between the closing scene/statement and the entire film I would choose the ending. It’s a one liner said twice in the course of the film in whisper; only in the end was it disclosed. This one line was said in time of grief by both American and terrorist; it is a true sentiment by many people. We have much reason to worry.

“Don’t worry”, it goes, “we’re going to kill them all.”