out of Five
Running time: 110
Absurdly gung-ho but no less enjoyable thriller, providing you don't take the flag-waving politics too seriously.
What's it all about?
Directed by actor-turned-director Peter Berg, The Kingdom stars Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman as four expert FBI investigators who are assigned to track down terrorists in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, following a horrific attack on an American compound. The political situation is sensitive so they're assigned a local liaison officer (Ashraf Barhom) and warned not to step on too many toes, but it isn't long before they're dodging bullets and grenade launchers.
Berg has clearly spent time studying the Bourne movies, judging by the rapid editing and use of handheld cameras, and he maintains a decent pace throughout. The action scenes are particularly good and would work brilliantly in 3-D because you actually want to dive out of the way during the grenade launcher scenes.
Some cast members fare better than others: Foxx makes a solid lead and Bateman's trademarked wise-cracking livens up a fairly dull script, but it's only the always-excellent Chris Cooper and Ashraf Barhom who emerge with anything resembling real characters. Garner's character might just as well be called Token Female, while Jeremy Piven (presumably cast because of his so-hot-right-now status on Entourage) is completely wasted as an American diplomat.
However, the film's biggest problem is its shockingly gung-ho tone – they might just as well have called it Death To All Terrorist Bastards: You Can Run But You Can't Hide and have done with it. Still, if you can ignore the flag-waving, it's an enjoyable, explosion-packed thriller with a stunning 30-minute climactic sequence that will leave you gasping for breath.
This won't be to everyone's tastes, but as a brainless Friday night action flick, then The Kingdom delivers plenty of explosion-based thrills. Just don't take the politics too seriously.