The Kingdom – Decent Thriller

Much as we love Jamie Foxx, it was the Israeli actor Ashraf Barhom who commanded our attention in Peter Berg’s new action flick The Kingdom.

As the Saudi colonel Faris Al Ghazi responsible for guarding a bunch of FBI Special Agents investigating a horrific attack in Saudi Arabia in which many American lives were lost including an FBI colleague, Ashraf Barhom brings an intensity to his character that Foxx – who plays an FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury here - never seems to achieve.

I suspect we’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more of Ashraf Barhom in Hollywood productions.

A geopolitical action thriller with car chases and its twin siblings bombings and kidnappings, The Kingdom is not in the same league as that edge of the seat, steroid-laced thriller of this summer Bourne Ultimatum.

Simply put, former CIA operative Jason Bourne trumps FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury in every department – story, action and pace.

But don’t get us wrong.

The Kingdom is still a decent movie compared to any of the currently running Bollywood nightmares at the Indian theatres in New York, New Jersey or California.

Against the wishes of the wimpy Attorney General Gideon Young (Danny Huston) and the State Department, four FBI agents land in Saudi Arabia to investigate a deadly attack.

With just five days to complete their difficult mission, the FBI agents led by Foxx meet with a hostile reception in Saudi Arabia both from the local U.S. State Department fellow Damon Schmidt (Jeremy Piven) as well as from their Saudi hosts.

Saudi colonel Faris Al Ghazi is responsible for their security and also for ensuring that the FBI agents do not step out of line in a country where for much of the local population Osama bin Laden is the hero and the Americans are the villains.

Saudi Arabia is a harsh terrain in every way – language, culture, anti-American sentiments and other prejudices stymie the FBI agents at every turn.

Although the story is not gripping in its entirety, The Kingdom has a lot of good moments.

Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman and Chris Cooper as the other FBI agents and particularly Ali Suliman as the Saudi Sergeant Haytham do an adequate job.

Much of this geopolitical thriller was actually shot – literally and figuratively in this case – in Arizona though it’d hard to figure that out if you didn’t know it already.

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