Hollywood Hues
Slam bang action
The Kingdom meanders with typical Americanisms and misses the core issue, says Ervell E. Menezes

The title is quite misleading. It refers to the Saudi Arabian kingdom and the skirmishes between the Saudi royalty and their American oil partners and the Islamic militants out to do away with the infidels. So The Kindgom is all about slam bang action and it far too violent for comfort to say nothing about Hollywood making the Arabs look quite pathetic.

Jamie Foxx in The Kindgom
Jamie Foxx in The Kindgom

Inspired no doubt by the violence that took place in the United States Embassy in Riyadh, it is basically fictional but scriptwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan, who was at his innovative best in Lions for Lambs, is a few rungs below that because he seems to delve more on the action than the genesis of the problem and in doing so the cerebral component falls by the wayside. Then, director Peter Berg doesnít do much to dilute the graphic violence with the result some sequences are totally abhorrent.

Special agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) is deputed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to advise and oversee the bungling. Saudi Army personnel and his team includes an arrogant Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), comely Janet Meyers (Jennifer Garner) to provide female relief, and young Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman) but their foul language with a profusion of bís and fís doesnít go well with the conservative Saudi military men of whom Col Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barholm) comes off the best. That the CIA team exceeds their brief is typical of the Hollywood formula and hence the excessive and needless violence.

It is reminiscent of the old Westerns in which the Indians (they no longer call them Red Indians, it is derogatory) were depicted as howling savages. The only thing missing is the US Cavalry coming to the rescue at the end. Though the film begins promisingly it soon meanders with typical Americanisms and missing the core of the issue. It picks up a little in the last quarter but not enough to salvage it.

Cinematographer tries his best to provide visual relief but the staccato pace and the high decibel level is just overbearing. That Jamie Foxx, who was quite impressive in Dreamgirls, has to pick a grenade and throw it away before it explodes only provides a hint of the low histrionic skill he is asked to display and Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman are marginally better. Jennifer Garner, displaying oomph and emotion in equal measure is at best adequate but it is Ashraf Barholm who corners most of the glory.

But all said and done and it takes all of 110 minutes, which for obvious reasons, even seems longer itís a no-no.