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The Kingdom
The kingdom is missing a proper king
The Kingdom
Jamie Foxx Stars in "The Kingdom".
OPENING WEEKEND: $16,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $46,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

December 21st, 2006: After a deadly terrorist attack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia takes the lives of many innocent American civilians, the FBI decides to take action by sending a team to capture those responsible. Hot shot Special Agent Ronald Fluery (Jamie Foxx) gets the task of a lifetime when he is picked to lead the elite group into conflict. With agents Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman), and Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper) at his side, he’s confident that they will be able to infiltrate and bring down the terrorist cell within a week’s time. Once there, however, the group finds themselves crippled by the disorienting culture, the scorching heat, and the dirty, labyrinthine politics. It isn’t long before the foursome begins to doubt the reliability of their supposed informants and allies, which eventually leads them to question their own abilities. With local law enforcement more of a hindrance than help, Fluery finds unexpected aid from a sympathetic Saudi police captain. Soon, the FBI unit picks up the track, leading them to the inevitable showdown with the opposing force.

What to Expect: The thriller is loosely based on a real-life attack, which occurred in May of 2003 and was carried out by an al Qaeda terrorist cell, using suicide car bombers. Their target was a rich and heavily guarded residential area in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, which housed primarily Westerners, including Americans. The terrorists drove into the complex in cars loaded with explosives and set off the bombs, killing 23 people. Nine Americans were killed, while 12 of the attackers perished during the strike.

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The Kingdom will use the event to set up the story, which is not likely to be overly concerned with other historically accurate information. No, with actor turned director Peter Berg at the helm, this is not going to be a political thriller in the vein of Syriana, but rather an action flick more along the lines of a James Bond film. For Berg, this will be his fourth film and he has done a solid job up to this point. With Very Bad Things, he took the comedy-crime caper to the limits of an R rating. In The Rundown, he spun a clever and colorful video game-like adventure that first showcased The Rock as a fully-fledged screen hero. With the football drama Friday Night Lights, Berg was able to recreate an exciting atmosphere on the field, while simultaneously orchestrating a genuine human drama off of it. One thing is for certain, however. Berg definitely knows how to direct action, which should benefit The Kingdom quite immensely.

Interestingly, the story was conceived by one of the finest modern filmmakers, Michael Mann, and indeed I sense his presence throughout this project. Of course, it may simply be Jamie Foxx’s inclusion in the cast. Foxx has starred in the previous two of Mann’s films, Collateral and the disappointing Miami Vice. Since Mann did not develop the screenplay for The Kingdom himself, this is not really a Michael Mann project in the same sense as the failed summer blockbuster. The script for this film was actually written by Matthew Michael Carnahan, the brother of director Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin’ Aces). Matthew has been keeping himself quite busy as of late as he has several high profile projects currently in development. He wrote the upcoming Lions for Lambs, which will star Tom Cruise, Robert Redford, and Meryl Streep. His brother Joe will direct from his screenplay for White Jazz. The film, which will star George Clooney, will be based on another dark James Elroy noir novel (L.A. Confidential, The Black Dahlia) and will once again focus on the corrupt system found at the LAPD. Finally, Matthew is also involved in the thriller State of Play, which currently has Brad Pitt set to star, with a release expected sometime in 2008. With so many projects on the wing, it should be very interesting what Matthew will come up with his first time up.

The cast is certainly very strong, but I’m not entirely convinced if everyone fits. After Miami Vice bombed, I would think that Foxx would want to stay away from playing law enforcement officials. He has not had a good run since winning his Academy Award and once again, this seems like a very safe choice for him. Chris Cooper is always amazing and brings a sense of credibility wherever he goes, but his role in The Kingdom will represent the second time Cooper dons a boring, FBI agent suit after Breach hits the screens just two months prior. Not to mention the fact that his part in Breach seems so much more intriguing. While Jennifer Garner may be a tough female spy on television, I no longer see her as having the right physicality for her part in “The Kingdom.” She’s becoming more and more of an America’s Sweetheart every day. Certainly, stories of her passing out on set due to heat exhaustion are not helping that image. Jason Bateman (“Arrested Development”) is probably the single oddest choice for an FBI agent, but I am kind of glad to see him break away from comedy to take on the role. It wouldn’t surprise me if his job were to provide some comedy relief to the story – a bit a la Joe Pantoliano in The Fugitive. Jeremy Piven will once again take on the role of a sleazebag as a conniving American diplomat in Saudi Arabia, who has been tasked with assisting the FBI unit during their investigation. Finally, country singer Tim McGraw has a cameo in the flick. His angered character will get into a scuffle with Foxx’s Fluery.

Filming has been taking place in Arizona in absolutely tortuous, but quite appropriate heat. Temperatures have neared 120 degrees so it is no wonder that Jennifer Garner has experienced some difficulty in the environment. Berg has had quite a hefty $80 million budget to work with and a lot of it has gone into the building and subsequent, on-camera destruction of a very expansive set. In fact, you can check out footage of explosions at the residential complex location right here. Perhaps it does not seem immediately impressive, but eyewitnesses have testified to the awesome power that could be felt there that night.

Regrettably, incredibly tragic incidents occurred during the shoot as well. Two crewmembers died in totally separate traffic accidents, only a few days apart. One incident occurred on set when the victim collided in his golf cart-like vehicle with Peter Berg’s Cadillac Escalade. Needless to say, tragedies like this have a way of marring the production and frequently the final product as well.

In Conclusion: This film has tremendous potential, but surprisingly, I feel like the cast, which features two Oscar winners, may actually be a drawback. Summer blockbusters like Stealth and Miami Vice have not been good to Jamie Foxx so it still remains to be seen whether he can actually be a box-office draw. Chris Cooper seems a little out of place here, although I feel like he can only make things better, not worse. And Jennifer Garner has never struck me as someone that can actually hang with the boys. The film’s major league budget should pay off if the advertising is handled properly. I think Berg may have a lot of excitement in store, but the film lacks that heroic superstar in the lead role that audiences would want to root for.

Similar Titles: Tears of the Sun, The Rundown, Miami Vice
September 28th, 2007 (wide)
December 23rd, 2007 (DVD)

Universal Pictures

Peter Berg

Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven

Total: 73 vote(s).

Drama, Suspense

Click here to view site

Rated R for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and language.

110 min




The Kingdom at AskMen.com

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