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The Kingdom (DVD)

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner & Jason Bateman.

Rated: 15.

Story: A small team of FBI agents goes to Saudi Arabia to investigate a terrorist attack on US citizens. They have to deal with unfamiliar customs and politics. After a while, they befriend a local police official and get a couple of leads. Suddenly, every other person they meet has a rocket launcher.

Comments: This is actually a lot more intelligent than it sounds. The film starts with a whistle-stop history lesson of Saudi Arabia and goes out of its way to paint all the major characters not as Arabs or Westerners but as people.

Then again, the movie's not quite as clever as it likes to think. Near the beginning, lots of peripheral characters are introduced in quick succession, their names and important-sounding job titles flashing up at the bottom of the screen. The captions vanish almost immediately, giving the impression it's all fast-moving and complicated. Really, it's a case of lots of high up people not wanting any boats rocked. As events proceed, the whole thing moves into 24 mode and then full-blown action film territory.

Still, no one's motivation is entirely pure and the movie never descends into a simplistic tale of good versus evil. It's compulsive viewing throughout.

Conclusion: Slick and tense.

Explosions: Some.
Angry, vengeful people: Assorted.
Killer marbles: Buckets.
Violations of the Prime Directive: Several.
Unlikely car chases though the streets of Riyadh: One.

Rating: 4/5.


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