“The Kingdom”

By Jae-Ha Kim
Amazon.com
Theatrical release: September 28, 2007

Set in Saudi Arabia, The Kingdom is a political action thriller with good acting and wonderful visuals.

Its so-so script, though, at times meanders aimlessly until a good explosion jolts the viewer’s attention back to the screen.

Jamie Foxx stars as FBI special agent Ronald Fleury, who leads an elite team into Saudi Arabia to find the terrorists who attacked American employees working in the Middle East.

He has been given the unlikely deadline of five days to infiltrate the compound, with just his wit and his crew, which includes forensics expert Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), explosives guru Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), and intelligence analyst Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman).

It’s unclear how helpful smarmy U.S. diplomat Damon Schmidt (Jeremy Piven) will be, but Fleury knows enough to surmise that the media-hungry Schmidt might not be completely trustworthy.

Foxx and Garner have wonderful screen presence, but it’s Bateman and Piven who get the best lines. Director Peter Berg peppers The Kingdom with actors he has worked with in the past. Berg, who guest-starred on Alias opposite Garner, casts Tim McGraw in a small role here. (The country singer also had a co-starring role in Berg’s 2004 film Friday Night Lights.) And Kyle Chandler and Minka Kelly–two of Berg’s lead actors from the Friday Night Lights television series, make appearances in The Kingdom.

The action sequences he creates are impressive and generate a sense of panic that The Kingdom producer Michael Mann (Miami Vice) undoubtedly applauds.

While a tauter script would’ve rounded out the action nicely, the action in many cases does speak for itself.

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