Reel Shorts | The Kingdom

28 09 2007

Jamie Foxx has given some extraordinary performances in films such as “Any Given Sunday,” “Ali,””Collateral” and “Ray.” In his latest film, “The Kingdom,” Foxx doesn’t give a showy performance but he perfectly compliments the intense storytelling of director Peter Berg.

The film opens with a two-minute education about the complex partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia that centers on oil. That relationship is explored in explosive detail as “The Kingdom” evolves. After 200 people, including some FBI agents, are killed during a terrorist attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Foxx) burns with desire to track down the group responsible for this heinous act.

While both governments are reluctant for F.B.I. agents to “put boots on Saudi soil,” Fleury wants to avenge the death of his colleague and friend. After some clever persuasion, Fleury and a small group of agents, are given five days to investigate the crime, but with major restrictions. Accompanied by a like minded Saudi police captain, Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom) he helps navigate Fleury and his team through the political and literal land mines of “The Kingdom.”

Under Berg’s direction, he creates a cinematic potpurri that features elements of action-adventure, buddy movies and an old fashioned “whodunnit” mystery. He also benefits from solid supporting performances from fellow Oscar winner Chris Cooper as well Jennifer Garner. All and all, “The Kingdom” is an adrenaline-filled adventure that is equal parts as intense as “Saving Private Ryan” with the spirited urgency of “Black Hawk Down.”

What makes this film so compelling is that Berg humanizes the Saudis who also have a desire to find the parties responsible just as much as the Americans. The fim’s is it’s stellar cast; it is the strength of the ensemble along with eye-popping cinematography and strong storytelling ability that places this film on the short list for a possible Best Picture nomination and is easily the best film I’ve seen this year.

There has been much discussion about the film’s final 30 minutes which are as hellish as any moments ever caught on film. The film’s take-home message is that although we are making progress, we have a long way to go to get the unity we all crave. To miss this movie would be a mistake because The Kingdom is an intelligently, directed film where there are no winners — just the rest of us.

Grade: A

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