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“The Kingdom” takes an old formula to a new environment and makes it work, barely.

Movie Review: The Kingdom

Written by Hombre Divertido

Terrorists attack a compound in Riyadh that houses American workers. Along with hundreds of other Americans, they manage to kill the friend of FBI agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx), and now it’s personal.

Though neither the Saudi Arabian nor American government want the FBI over there, Fleury manages to manipulate the right people, and get five days to solve this crime. Fleury assembles his Untouchables with Chris Cooper in the Sean Connery role, and Jennifer Garner and Jason Batmen rounding out the team and off they go. After some initial resistance, they manage to make a friend, earn some respect, and teach the locals everything you can learn by watching C.S.I.

The environment offers some new opportunities for the fish-out-of-water concept to work and creates some humor, but other than that, there is nothing new here. Once the team arrives, Foxx embraces his cowboy role riding a bucking bronco of emotion to its highest and lowest points for the full eight seconds. The good guys never run out of bullets, and the bad guys never hit the good guys.

What The Kingdom lacks in depth, character development, and performances (most are one dimensional) it more than makes up for in fast-paced action sequences. Director Peter Berg and producer Michael Mann know how to deliver action and they do. When the audience is not laughing at the trite dialog, they are sitting on the edge of their seats watching some of the most over-the-top action scenes they’ve scene in 2007 that didn’t include Bruce Willis.

There is insight into the terrorist conflict here, though too forced to carry much weight, and the “enemy is us” moral is poignant though heavy-handed in how it is delivered. At a running time of 110 minutes, had more time been spent dissecting the circumstances, and developing the characters, which would have allowed the actors to better display some range, the film might have been able to overcome its own predictability. On the other hand, perhaps that was not the goal. Perhaps the goal was to create a fast-paced “shoot ‘em up” in the dessert.

Recommendation: Leave your brain in the car and grab some popcorn. This is a summer movie in October, and is worth your time and money if you like this sort of action packed entertainment.

About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS

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