The Kingdom (2007)

Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Jamie FoxxChris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Richard Jenkins
Plot: A team of U.S. government agents is sent to investigate the bombing of an American facility in the Middle East.

Genre: Action/Drama/Thriller
Awards: -
Runtime: 110min
Rating: NC16 for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language.



The Kingdom might have been appropriately titled CSI: Riyadh. Peter Berg's sub-political thriller is almost akin to a police procedural feature, but is more edgy and grittier than most films are capable of. A delight throughout, it starts out with creative main titles that document the problematic history and the controversial establishment of 'The Kingdom'. It follows up with a truly shocking introduction, becoming more investigative in nature as the story unfolds, and ends with a twenty minute no-nonsense action sequence.

The Kingdom is written by newcomer Matthew Michael Carnahan (Lions For Lambs), one of Hollywood's hottest prospects. His fictionalized tale of a major terrorist attack and its counter-terrorism response seeks to underline our fears of extremism. His screenplay is well-balanced, offering nothing more than a detailed understanding of what makes the world what it is today. Carnahan's script can be very tricky to handle (with all the racial and religious implications). Credit goes to the director for being hyper-sensitive as The Kingdom is one of the few, rare Hollywood pictures that don't even think of discriminating the Arabs.

Fans of Paul Greengrass' The Bourne Ultimatum are in for a treat. Using unstable hand-held cameras for high-tempo action scenes, both films are shining examples on how to make documentary-like action thrillers. The Kingdom spends most of its runtime dissecting the aftermath of a terrorist attack rather than being a round-the-clock actioner, so fans of Die Hard 4.0 or Shoot 'Em Up are in for a trick. The Kingdom surprises with its careful approach and exemplary filmmaking. The last few lines of the film are a frank (and stark) reminder of the bloody future that awaits us. The Kingdom is arguably 2007's top action thriller, surpassing even Greengrass' latest effort.

GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)

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