The Kingdom kicks off with a brief and informative history of the Middle East. From there, the action moves to an American compound in Saudi Arabia. Despite the presence of heavily-armed guards, terrorists are able to attack the compound, setting off bombs and killing hundreds of people who minutes prior had been barbecuing, playing softball or otherwise just relaxing on their day off. It’s a devastatingly brutal attack made all the more horrific because it could, literally, be happening now.
Stateside, a crackerjack team of FBI investigators begs to be given the opportunity to travel to Saudi Arabia and assist in the investigation. Higher ups don’t want the four agents to go, but somehow they finagle their way into being allowed to help the Saudis track down the terrorists responsible for the killings. It’s not just a professional gig for these four, it’s also personal. They lost friends during the blasts and they want answers – and justice.
Fortunately for Fleury and his fellow agents, the high-ranking police official assigned to be their watchdog is extremely proficient at his job. Colonel Al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom, delivering the best performance of the film) and Agent Fleury have a lot more in common than either would have assumed, and the friendship they forge allows the agents to access sections of the bomb site and areas of the city that would otherwise have been off-limits. It’s highly dangerous for all involved, but neither the FBI agents nor their Saudi counterparts are willing to settle for anything less than the capture of those responsible.
Jason Bateman, so excellent in the ‘shouldn’t have been cancelled’ series Arrested Development, provides the film with a little comic relief – when appropriate. Bateman’s experiencing a career resurgence and with The Kingdom he’s officially back in the feature film game. And action veteran Jennifer Garner (Alias) totally fits the part of a female FBI agent who can handle herself as well, if not better, than her male cohorts.
The Bottom Line
The Saudi cops and the FBI agents work together – and together is the key word here – in The Kingdom, and America’s not depicted as the big hero of the piece. Foxx’s character puts it bluntly when he says America’s not perfect but that there are some things we’re good at, and analyzing forensic evidence is one of them. There are clearly defined heroes and villains in this piece, and it’s refreshing to see that not just the FBI agents are on the right side of the law.
The Kingdom was directed by Peter Berg and is rated R for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language.