Take some notes, Dubya: Jamie Foxx has the anti-terrorism tactics you’ve been craving. Foxx is rolling through Riyadh in The Kingdom, winning hearts and cracking heads in search of some bad muthas who shot up a U.S. military compound (softball players and innocent kids included). Those villains thought they were slaughtering random Yanks, unaware that one of the fallen was a friend of Jamie Foxx’s F.B.I. stud Ronald Fleury. Big mistake, since all it takes is a little sneaky political maneuvering for Fleury and his crew—Jennifer Garner’s tough medical examiner, Chris Cooper’s colorful Southerner, and Jason Bateman’s annoying wisecracker—to secure clearance to set foot on Saudi soil and get to the bottom of this heinous attack. Naturally, those rascally Saudis handcuff Fleury to escort/babysitter Colonel Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), but anyone who believes that’ll stop him from fulfilling his patriotic duty clearly hasn’t seen Stealth. As shot by Peter Berg impersonating producer Michael Mann, The Kingdom‘s Middle East setting is all dusty earth tones and shady characters, and harsher than the heat is Muslim discrimination against women. Jennifer Garner, though, isn’t having any of it—knife to the crotch, militant scum! America, fuck yeah, knows how to bring the thunder to terrorists. All you have to do is send over a quartet of F.B.I. agents, give ‘em five days to smooth out relations with the po-po and a richy rich prince, and ka-boom, ka-blam, ka-pow, national security reestablished! Still, simply because our CSI investigative skills are dope, and our Rambo ass-kicking prowess is awesome, doesn’t mean that we don’t recognize a good Muslim from a bad one. Just check out the we-are-the-world parts of the film when Fleury’s love of children is juxtaposed with Al Ghazi’s identical family-man goodness. That’s tolerance and compassion, yo! And if you suspect director Berg doesn’t comprehend the root causes of West-East hostility, stick around ‘til the end, because that’s when he drops knowledge-bombs about the cycle of violence. Deep. But don’t think this is some namby-pamby anti-war documentary—this is American-made action, baby! So let’s shoot some thugs, save Jason Bateman from being beheaded, and learn valuable lessons about the cost of war via the death of sympathetic Saudis. That’s what The Kingdom is talking about.
- Peter Berg
- Matthew Michael Carnahan
- Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Chris Cooper, Ashraf Barhom, Ali Suliman, Jeremy Piven, Danny Huston
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