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KINGDOM, THE: DVD

SYNOPSIS:
When a terrorist bomb detonates inside a Western housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, killing hundreds, FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) assembles an elite team (Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman) for a secret five-day trip into Saudi Arabia to capture the bomber/s. Saudi authorities are suspicious and unwelcoming of Americans interfering in what they consider a local matter. Their Saudi counterparts want to locate the terrorist in their homeland on their own terms. Fleury's crew finds a like-minded partner in Saudi Colonel Al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhoum), who helps them navigate royal politics, unlock the secrets of the crime scene and the workings of an extremist cell bent on further destruction.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Starting with a condensed historical timeline of events to fill in the political background to Saudi Arabia in relation to the US, to oil and to Osama bin Laden, The Kingdom is an attempt to turn today's biggest political story - religion-driven terrorism - into an action thriller with something to say. I'm all for that, as long as the filmmakers are serious about exploring their subject and avoid crowd pleasing, jingoistic propaganda. The Kingdom manages to avoid these pitfalls to a large extent, and finishes with a powerful point that redeems its moments of weakness: killing your enemy is a futile and primitive response.

The information package at the start of the film is a clue to the serious intent, establishing the context of its Saudi Arabian story with clarity - not counting some dialogue lost in the sound mix. The terrible violence unleashed on the American compound is as real as this morning's news footage, and has a visceral impact to set up the rest of the film. Political manoeuvrings are sketched in as the FBI tries to send a team headed by Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) to work with the Saudis; this is work they're good at, as Fleury points out in one scene, whatever you may think of the FBI. The conflict is thus expanded into a triangular dynamo; there is the conflict of tracking down the murderers, and the conflict between the Government and the FBI team, as well as the conflict between the team, once they defy regulations and get there, and the Saudis.

These intersecting tensions provide a lot of fuel for the film's dramatic engine and Jamie Foxx brings his considerable screen authority to the role of Fleury. His machismo is offset by some early scenes with his son (where is his wife?), later reprised and given more and more meaning by the way the story is resolved, with a little Saudi boy in the final scene.

Superbly cast all round, the film has an authenticity about it that is both exciting as cinema and devastating as a close up on our terrible times.

Peter Berg handles the action with a raw energy that he could well have retained without falling foul of the overused hand held camera trick that is so tiring to watch. That aside, The Kingdom explores the cross cultural issues between the US and Saudi Arabia through this dramatic prism, offering valuable insights and a scary scenario of what Islamic terrorism really looks like.

Published February 7, 2008

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

KINGDOM, THE: DVD (MA)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Chris Cooper, Andrew Astor, Jeremy Piven, Ashraf Barhoum

PRODUCER: Peter Berg, Michael Mann, Scott Stuber

DIRECTOR: Peter Berg

SCRIPT: Matthew Michael Carnahan

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mauro Fiore

EDITOR: Colby Parker Jr, Kevin Stitt

MUSIC: Danny Elfman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tom Duffield

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 4, 2007

PRESENTATION: Widescreen

SPECIAL FEATURES: .

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

DVD RELEASE: February 6, 2008







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