Jamie Foxx has moved onto the A-list in Hollywood. He’s able to deliver drama (Ray, Jarhead), comedy (The Jamie Foxx Show), and action (Miami Vice). His role as FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury in The Kingdom is going to further his drama and action acumen.
As Fleury, Foxx gets to descend into Saudi Arabian holdings like the unholy wrath of God – eventually. There’s a lot of red tape stringing him up at first. But by the time he gets through it, he breaks out the big guns and the action couldn’t be finer. It could, however, be more believable at times. But that’s not what this film is about, nor should it be. This is a high octane thriller that’s wired for violence and explosions. That’s why I bought the DVD and watched it, and I got what I paid for.
The movie opens up with an attack against US citizens in a restricted area in Saudi Arabia. The events are carefully controlled and calculated to do the most harm. Then the cameramen go to work and roll out some of the most intense chase scenes and gunplay I’ve seen in a while. Maybe I’d just been away from that kind of all-out action for too long, but it really hit the spot.
The intercut between the devastation and Foxx’s character delivering a speech in front of his young son’s elementary school class is stark and carries a lot of emotional resonance. Fleury’s friend is giving his life protecting the very thing that Fleury is at the moment enjoying.
Afterwards, Fleury asks for permission to put an FBI investigation team on the ground in Saudi Arabia but gets politely refused at every turn. He resorts to political brinksmanship and blackmail to get an audience with an influential Saudi Arabian who can make everything happen. Then Fleury piles on even more blackmail.
All goes as I knew it would, and Fleury and his team fly to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The eventual team-up of the American cop and the Saudi Arabian cop isn’t a big surprise, but the friendship is built slowly and steadily, and I enjoyed watching it develop. Ashraf Barhom is absolutely fantastic as the Saudi Arabian officer, Faris al-Ghazi.
The cat-and-mouse game that exists between the FBI team and the terrorists, and the FBI team and the Saudi Arabian military is played for all its worth. Fleury’s eventual winning over of the Saudi Arabian prince in charge of the investigation comes surprisingly quickly, but happens in a manner that was totally understandable.