- Jamie Foxx as Ronald Fleury
- Chris Cooper as Grant Sykes
- Jennifer Garner as Janet Mayes
- Jason Bateman as Adam Leavitt
- Ashraf Barhom as Colonel Al-Ghazi
- Ali Suliman as Sergeant Haytham
- Jeremy Piven as Damon Schmidt
- Danny Huston as Gideon Young
An action thriller that manages to for the most part distinguish itself from other films of a similar nature, The Kingdom is intense and breakneck stuff that plays out against the backdrop of uneasy tensions between the U.S. And Saudi Arabia.
Inside an American oil compound in Riyadh, terrorist kill dozens of people through violence and bombs, a second incident later occurs not long after which claims the life of a FBI agent. The incident is brought to the attention of the FBI deployment team headed by Ronald Fleury. Although the government is skeptical about sending a team out to Riyadh to investigate, the driven Fleury manages a way to make this possible and he is given five days to find the people behind the devastation. Joining him are bomb expert Grant Sykes, forensic examiner Janet Mayes and analyst Adam Leavitt. They are greeted by Colonel Al-Ghazi, who is to provide security for them while there. He ultimately becomes an ally who despite having his hands tied by the complexities of politics, helps them out in tracking down who instigated the act of terror. The team comes up against cultural differences and attitudes that hinder them as they continue to investigate and the situation gets more uneasy. But as the team delves deeper, it becomes apparent that they could well be the next targets of attack.
The direction from Peter Berg brings with it tension and explosive pace as chaos unfolds and the team find themselves in grave danger. He also knows when to slow it down and focus on the investigation and characters, which is rare in a film with so much action. To be honest, going into The Kingdom I just expected another action movie of clichés and done before plots dumbed down for the audience. So I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that a lot of thought had gone into the film that would make it intriguing and realistic. It isn’t without flaws as the middle part of the movie lags before the exhilarating last half, but The Kingdom generally makes it worth your while. The marvellous title sequence of spliced news footage showing the relationships between the US and Saudi Arabia is an excellent way to open the film and bring forth the main conflict that arises throughout The Kingdom. Some may say that the politics displayed in the film are simplified, and to a certain extent that is true, but the film manages to bring some of them forward. On the action front, The Kingdom certainly delivers due to the visual style and camerawork. Through rapid cuts and jumping camerawork, we get a sense of the real danger that the team face as they attempt to find the perpetrator. The last third of The Kingdom is unbearably tense as the team come head on with the people behind the massacre and chaos and gunfire reign. The score by Danny Elfman excellently blends an electronic pulse and Middle Eastern drums to signify the tension between the countries and the intensity of the mission.
Jamie Foxx is slick, smart yet motivated by his heart as Ronald Fleury, the head of the team. He is no slouch when it comes to the action either and really shows his physical presence. Chris Cooper brings comic relief to the film, as the wise cracking sarcastic bomb expert. Jennifer Garner is very good as Janet, the only girl on the team who can handle herself in her job and in combat. Garner manages to make her character grounded and unflappable, which comes in very handy with the events she must face. Jason Bateman plays well off Chris Cooper at the joking thing but also exudes the want not to be in this situation. But the real standout for me is Ashraf Barhom. Portraying Al-Ghazi, the colonel assisting the team, he embodies depth, care and the desire to hold balance in a time of chaos. Barhom is the one who provides The Kingdom with a surprising amount of depth. Ali Suliman in the role of the second in command to Al-Ghazi is quiet yet suitably intense. Unfortunately, Jeremy Piven as an opportunistic embassy worker and Danny Huston as the U.S. Attorney General are totally wasted.
Lightening paced, surprisingly deep at times but also very thrilling, The Kingdom manages to stand out from the crowd of action movie out there.