After a terrorist attack on an American housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where families and FBI Agent Francis Manner are murdered, FBI agent Ronald Fleury blackmails the Saudi Arabian consul to get five days of investigation in the location. He travels with agent Grant Sykes, Janet Mayes and Adam Leavitt to avenge their friend and try to find those responsible for the bombing. The agents find all sorts of difficulties in their investigation, but they are supported by Colonel Faris Al Ghazi that advises the team how to act in a hostile environment.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The production team had originally wanted to shoot the film on location in Saudi Arabia, but political and logistical issues made this far too difficult. Instead, Tom Duffield and the production design team re-constructed exterior urban scenes for the chase and shootout on an empty lot near Mesa, Arizona, using photographs from the internet and some that director Peter Berg had taken on a visit to the country prior to filming. Some additional on location photography was shot in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This includes the Prince's palace and larger exteriors with skyscrapers, major city streets and highways. See more »
Saguaro cacti visible in the scenes shot in Arizona (freeway attack scenes). See more »
After capturing most of the Arabian Peninsula with the help of the Wahhabi Islamic warriors, Ibn Saud establishes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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Peter Berg's "The Kingdom" is a thrilling movie, that's out of the question. The problem is that it doesn't really know whether it primarily wants to be an action movie or a political comment.
It starts out well enough. The gripping opening montage documents the connection between the U.S.A. and Saudi Arabia and sucks you right into the story. The first act plays out as a very good depiction of terror in the middle east. In the second act the movie loses some of its pace and we get to know the characters a bit more. What's really off-putting is that the Americans come across as constantly joking, relaxed, but at the same time totally competent people. It's the old "cowboy"-image Hollywood has always tried to convey in its war movies from the 80's, that should really have been left behind by now. It's not a fatal flaw, but it definitely prevents the movie from becoming more than just an action flick set in the middle east.
This becomes more apparent in the final act, which starts with a car crash and continues with countless shootouts. The movie goes way over the top from this moment on and turns into something Jerry Bruckheimer might have thought up. Technically the action scenes are developed pretty well (I don't share the common criticism of other reviewers that the shaky cam distracted too much. I'm not a fan of it usually, but here it was alright). In its best moments the action looks like something out of "The Bourne Ultimatum", in its worst the movie could be "Shooter".
What separates "The Kingdom" from "Shooter" is its message, though. The final lines spoken in the movie redeem Berg of a lot of the mindless action that preceded them. After all, the makers apparently did want to make some kind of statement and this last comment really hits home. Other than that you don't find much of a message in "The Kingdom". Just because the movie doesn't glorify the U.S.A. at any point, doesn't exactly make it critical. It's merely neutral, which is more than can be said about most American action movies dealing with terrorism. There is one questionable scene, in which a police man from the middle east and the main character, an FBI agent played by Jamie Foxx, seem to agree that it would be best to simply execute the masterminds behind terroristic acts without asking any further questions. On the other hand, this can just be seen as the realistic depiction of what those characters would feel, because I don't think that either would be a big defender of a terrorist's rights.
In the end "The Kingdom" is a straightforward action flick with enough critical undertones to not be propaganda. It's a very exciting thriller to watch, but except for the final scene there's nothing really thought-provoking here.
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