The Kingdom

Movies, Action and adventure
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The Kingdom

If only our problems in the Middle East could be solved by football. We could send over our greatest tacticians, our Mike Ditkas and Brett Favres, hunker down for yards and wrap the whole thing up by January. The Kingdom offers us the next best thing: director Peter Berg, who turned small-town Texas college play into bruised pageantry with 2004’s Friday Night Lights. He sees no conflict in adapting his slo-mo-hug cam to the serious matter of Saudi-staged terrorism—namely a bomb that takes the lives of several American contractors and their family members. The international incident sets off alarms: Send over FBI ops Jamie Foxx and tight end Jennifer Garner.

Forthwith, The Kingdom plays out like a dumber version of Syriana—clearer, yes, but also simpler and pitched to those who will hoot when Garner stabs an attacker in the balls. Suffice it to say, the Americans encounter resistance during their investigation. After a lot of nothing happens, a third act materializes from a desert-highway blitz, the bullets pinging and glinting in the sun. (The film was coproduced by Heat’s Michael Mann.) A friendly, comedic Jew among the U.S. team (Bateman) gets kidnapped for some revisionist Daniel Pearl machinations, while Foxx and major-league squinter Chris Cooper ease into the rescue mission. Hail Mary pass? It’s good! Grasping for unearned equanimity, the movie suggests in its final seconds that hate knows no nationality. Can that really be taken seriously after the film has turned its viewers into animals?

By: Joshua Rothkopf

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Release details

Cast and crew

Director: Peter Berg
Screenwriter: Matthew Michael Carnahan
Cast: Jamie Foxx
Jennifer Garner
Jason Bateman
Chris Cooper
Jeremy Piven
Danny Huston
Richard Jenkins