Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Kingdom

Peter Berg, 2007 (7.6*)
This is a surprisingly good action-adventure from actor turned director Peter Berg, who also made the excellent sports docudrama Friday Night Lights. There are several gripping action sequences that will stand out from standard car chase fare. The film begins with a horrifying terrorist attack on U.S. residents at a kids softball game in Saudi Arabia. After all the carnage, an on the scene FBI investigator (stationed in Saudi Arabia) is among the dead. The FBI in Washington wants to send its own team in to investigate, but it’s against US policy, inflaming an already tense situation.

Well, of course the team gets there or we’d have no story. Jamie Foxx is the leader, Chris Cooper the bomb expert (there's two Oscar® winners), Jennifer Garner the eye candy, as a friend of the dead agent, and Jason Bateman, the comic actor from Arrested Development, here misappropriately used for a serious and violent role. Richard Jenkins is his usual pro self in a small role as their FBI superior, Jeremy Piven is miscast as the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia – I kept expecting an agent style rant about growing balls from Ari on Entourage.

There’s an exciting freeway sequence, and an urban shootout that are both riveting and involving. The crew also had access to shoot in the royal palace of Dubai (or was it U.A.E.?), so all locations look very authentic. Of course the plot is a predictable, down a star for that, but the Arab acting of Ashraf Barhom, best in the film [Supporting Actor nomination maybe!], more than makes up for the John Wayne style of the Americans.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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