Sunday, March 9, 2014

Overlooked Film of the Week- "The Kingdom" (2007)

Overlooked Film of the Week- #47

The Kingdom
There are some movies that I have an idea will become blockbusters. The advertising seals it, the cast shows it, and I undoubtedly believe it. However, movies don't always get the traction they need to become those blockbusters. Sometimes they don't make enough money. Sometimes they don't live up to the expectations of their marketing. I think what "The Kingdom" ultimately suffered from was its R-rating, although I wouldn't say that it hurt the movie. "The Kingdom" is an action-packed thriller about a group of Federal Agents who travel to Saudi Arabia to discover why an American living complex was bombed, and find who did it.

"The Kingdom" has one of the best opening credit sequences in all of movies. Sometimes, an opening credit sequence is an afterthought, but director Peter Berg takes a stylish advantage to update the audience on a quick history lesson to why our relationship with that region is so turbulent. Automatically, I was hooked, and barely anything had happened yet. Its an opening credit sequence worthy of comparing to all Bond films, or Zack Snyder's "Dawn of the Dead" and "Watchmen." Its tense, fast-paced work, and I was already anticipating what would happen next.

After the opening sequence is done, we are off to a baseball game in the living quarters of an American complex in Saudi Arabia. It seems peaceful at first, but its not before long when impostors start opening fire on the Americans. When the Arabians counter the attack, all seems well, then a suicide bomber lights himself up right in the middle of the baseball diamond. On sight after the attack, Special Agent Fran Manner (the under-appreciated Kyle Chandler) calls Special Agent Ronald Flury (Jamie Foxx), a colleague in America. Manner tells Flury do anything he can to come to Saudi Arabia and help. After the phone call, another attack occurs, killing Manner. Flury pulls whatever strings he can to get a team over to help with the investigation, and he eventually makes it over. He is aided by Col. Faris al-Ghazi (Ashaf Barhom), a member of the Saudi State Police Force who provides security for Flury's group. Together, they find the terrorists responsible.

What makes "The Kingdom" completely re-watchable is its incredible cast. Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman and Chris Cooper make up the FBI team that makes into Saudi Arabia. Together, they make an awesome team. Not only that, but we feel their relationships, their hardships, the mileage of their time together. This feels like a team of people who have known each other for years. That's not easy to create for an audience, but these actors dive into their characters, and the movie is better for it. However, the one who steals the show for me is Ashaf Barhom as Col. Faris. He plays a man just as committed to finding the terrorists, feels responsible for the deaths and does everything to help. Barhom brings charm, humor and "badass-ness" to his part. I can't believe Barhom didn't become a bigger star after "The Kingdom" because he definitely should have. Also look for cameos by Tim McGraw, Minka Kelly and Jeremy Piven, all of whom do good work.

I can't discuss "The Kingdom" any further without getting into the action. Holy cow, this film is full of testosterone-induced scenes of awesome. There are lots of eye-popping close quarter battles, all of which are cool. There are also lots of big shoot-outs and plenty of things go boom. No matter what, the film never looses its heart and soul. It never stops mattering to the audience. It never stops thrilling you with its drama. "The Kingdom" is a film full of surprises, its not an ordinary action movie.

"The Kingdom" is definitely worth checking out and if you haven't checked it out yet, I hope you do so!

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