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The Kingdom is a 2007 film directed by Peter Berg and starring Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Ashraf Barhom, with Kyle Chandler, Jeremy Piven and Ali Suliman.

The film is fictional, but inspired by bombings at the Riyadh compound on May 12, 2003 and the Khobar housing complex on June 26, 1996 in the kingdom of Saudi Arabiamarker. The story follows a team of FBImarker agents who investigate the bombing of a foreign-workers facility in Saudi Arabia. Screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan has summarised the plot as "What would a murder investigation look like on Mars?”

The film was screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival as its yearly 'Surprise Movie' on 22 August 2007.

Plot

The opening scene of the movie explains the origins of U.S.-Saudi diplomatic relations and how energy exploitation has transformed the Middle East through a timeline sequence. It portrays the conflicts that have risen since the late 1940s for the rightful ownership of the oil industry. This includes the Gulf War in Iraq and al-Qaeda's growing network of terrorism. Eventually, it explains the 9/11 terrorist attacks and how the majority of the hijackers were Saudis. This raises serious questions on the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States. The plot begins with the current struggle of Saudi Arabia and the kingdom's efforts to stand control of their country against terrorist extremists.

During a softball game at an American oil company housing compound in Riyadhmarker, Saudi Arabiamarker, al-Qaeda terrorists set off a bomb, killing many Americans and Saudis in the process. The terrorists impersonate members of the Saudi State Police. While one team hijacks a car and shoots up residents of the area, another runs out onto the softball diamond, pretending to aid the Americans, but then reveals that he is a suicide bomber and blows himself up, killing everyone near him. Sergeant Haytham (Ali Suliman) of the Saudi state police, disables the stolen Saudi Police vehicle and kills the terrorists. A short time later, the FBI Legal Attache in Saudi Arabia, Special Agent Francis Manner (Kyle Chandler), calls up his colleague Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) to tell him about the attack. Shortly afterwards, a second bomb explodes in the compound killing Manner and more people.

At FBI Headquartersmarker in Washington, D.C.marker, Fleury briefs his rapid deployment team on the attack and casualties. During the briefing, Special Agent Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), a forensic examiner, breaks down in tears upon hearing of Francis' death. Fleury whispers something into her ear which causes her to control her emotions. While the U.S.marker Justice Departmentmarker and the U.S.marker State Departmentmarker hinder FBI efforts to investigate the attack, Fleury blackmails the Saudi ambassador into allowing an FBI investigative team into Saudi Arabia. Departing from Andrews Air Force Basemarker, Fleury and his team of Mayes, Leavitt (Jason Bateman), an intelligence analyst and Special Agent Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), a bomb technician, go to Saudi Arabia. Arriving at Prince Sultan Air Basemarker, they are met by Colonel Faris al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), the commander of the Saudi State Police Force providing security at the compound. Fleury soon realizes that Colonel al-Ghazi is not in charge of running the investigation. In actuality, the investigation is being run by General Al Abdulmalik (Mahmoud Said) of the Saudi National Guard, who does not give Fleury and his team permission to investigate. Rather, they are to observe the Saudi investigation.

When the FBI team is invited to the palace of Saudi Prince Ahmed bin Khaled (Omar Berdouni) for a dinner, Mayes is excluded because of her gender. While at the palace, Fleury persuades the Prince that Colonel al-Ghazi is a natural detective and should be allowed to lead the investigation. With this new change in leadership, the Americans are allowed a more hands-on approach to the crime scene. While searching for evidence, Sergeant Haytham and Sykes discover that the second bomb was detonated in an ambulance, using marbles as projectiles. Fleury learns that the brother of one of the terrorists had access to ambulances and police uniforms. Colonel al-Ghazi orders a SWAT team to raid the house, managing to kill a few heavily armed terrorists. Following the raid, the team discovers valuable intelligence, including multiple photos of the U.S. and other Western embassies in Riyadhmarker. Soon afterwards, Fleury and his team are notified by the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Damon Schmidt (Jeremy Piven) that they have been ordered to return to the United States. However, Fleury and al-Ghazi both believed that the men that they had just killed were just amateur fighters and were not the real planners behind the attacks.

On their way to King Khalid International Airportmarker, Fleury notices a youth watching their convoy from an overpass, and then sees that the last SUV of their convoy has stopped far behind them, he then notices a speeding car coming towards them and grabs the wheel from Sergeant Haytham which allows them to partially evade the collision that occurs when the speeding car runs into the first SUV of their convoy, setting off a trunk full of explosives. Their SUV, the third one in their convoy, hits the first SUV killing the men inside. The fourth SUV finally drives up and the men inside pull out Leavitt, throw him into the back and drive away while a second car drives by to shoot the surviving Americans. Fleury manages to wound one attacker, and al-Ghazi commandeers a civilian vehicle to chase the fourth SUV and the other car into the dangerous Suweidi neighborhood of Riyadh. As they pull up, a gunman launches rocket propelled grenades at them and a fierce fire fight starts. Inside the complex, Leavitt is tied up and gagged while his attackers prepare to tape a video of his beheading.

After having killed their attackers, al-Ghazi decides that three of them must enter and find Leavitt and two must stay behind and cover the entrance. While Sykes and Haytham watch the entrance, al-Ghazi, Fleury and Mayes enter the building, following a blood trail and manage to finish off many other gunmen inside. Mayes, separate from the other two, scares a little girl in an apartment, and she enters to find a family with little children, their mother and grandfather. She yells at them to stay put and goes across the hall to another apartment to find Leavitt and his attackers. She kills the remaining insurgents, and al-Ghazi and the team start to leave. However, Mayes feels unsettled about the little girl, and walks in to give the girl a lollipop. In return the girl gives her a marble, matching the ones pieced together earlier from the bomb scene. Fleury then realises that there is a trail of blood leading to the back of the apartment, and al-Ghazi sees the grandfather, suspects something and asks to help him up in order to inspect his hand. When the old man gives him his hand, al-Ghazi sees that the man is missing the fingers that is missing in the terrorist groups many videos and confirms his idea that the grandfather is the terrorist leader. Abu Hamza's teenage grandson walks out of the bedroom and manages to shoot al-Ghazi in the neck twice with a pistol before it jams, prompting Fleury to kill him. Abu Hamza then feebly pulls out an assault rifle and Haytham puts three shots in his chest. As Abu Hamza dies, his younger grandson hugs him and Abu Hamza whispers something into his ear to calm the child down. Al-Ghazi dies in Fleury's arms.

At Al-Ghazi's house, Fleury and Haytham meet his family. Fleury tells his son that al-Ghazi was his good friend, mirroring a similar scene earlier in the movie where he comforted Special Agent Manner's son. Fleury and his team return to the U.S., where they are commended by FBI Director James Grace (Richard Jenkins) for their outstanding work. Afterwards, Leavitt asks Fleury what he had whispered to Mayes (earlier in the film) to calm her down. The scene cuts to Abu Hamza's daughter asking her son what his grandfather whispered to him as he was dying. Fleury recalls saying, "We're gonna kill them all," while the grandson tells his mother, "Don't fear them, my child. We are going to kill them all."

Cast



Production

Prior to filming, director Peter Berg spent two weeks in Saudi Arabia doing research for the film. Filming commenced July 10, 2006, on the west side of the old Maricopa County Courthouse in Phoenix, Arizonamarker, USA. Additional scenes were being filmed concurrently in Mesa, Arizonamarker; the scenes at the American compound were shot at the Polytechnic campusmarker of Arizona State Universitymarker. In some of the trailer frames, saguaro cacti are visible in the background.

While shooting on location in Mesa, Arizonamarker Berg was involved in a fatal accident that resulted in the death of another member of the production team. The SUV he was riding in collided with a Gator all-terrain vehicle driven by Nick Papac. Papac died three hours later. On August 8, 2008, Papac's parents Michael Papac and Michele Bell filed suit against the director, a driver and the production company. The lawsuit was dropped in 2008. Filming resumed one day after the incident.

On-location filming took place in Abu Dhabimarker, United Arab Emiratesmarker for two weeks in mid-September. Since Universal Pictures does not have an office in the Middle East, the production was facilitated by a local production firm called Filmworks, based in Dubaimarker. Filming also took place at the Emirates Palacemarker hotel in Abu Dhabi. The film's production cost $80 million.

The Kingdom was released on DVD December 20, 2007.

Reception

Western reception

The Kingdom opened to mixed reviews. Based on 17 reviews, the film averaged a 55 on Metacritic. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 52% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 178 reviews.

Weekly Standard columnist John Podhoretz called the film "perfectly paced" and "remarkably crisp and satisfying", arguing that it evokes the films The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Dog Day Afternoon, and The New Centurions. New York Times critic A.O. Scott called it "a slick, brutishly effective genre movie". He also stated that "Just as Rambo offered the fantasy of do-over on Vietnam, The Kingdom can be seen as a wishful revisionist scenario for the American response to Islamic fundamentalist terrorism." Evan Williams of The Australian called it "an excellent thriller" and stated that it "may be the first Hollywood film to confront Saudi involvement in international terrorism."

New York Post critic Lou Lumenick stated that "Hollywood provides the Islamic world another reason to hate America with The Kingdom," calling it "xenophobic" and "pandering." Lisa Schwarzbaum of Entertainment Weekly accused the film of "treating its audience like cash-dispensing machines". Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times called it "a slick excuse for efficient mayhem that's not half as smart as it would like to be." He added that "the film's thematic similarity to those jingoistic World War II-era 'Yellow Peril' films makes it hard not to feel your humanity being diminished."

Middle Eastern reception

Kaveh L Afrasiabi of Asia Times Online called it "a pseudo-realist action movie that succeeds only if we degrade ourselves to adolescent Americans' perception of world affairs" and "non-stop nonsense from beginning to end." He accused the film of "FBI-worship", "Saudi-bashing", and "Islamophobia".Faisal Abbas, media editor of the London-based international Arabic journal Asharq Al Awsat, wrote on the newspaper's English website that "despite some aspects which might be perceived by some as negative, many might be pleasantly surprised after watching this film, bearing in mind that Arabs have for a long time been among Hollywood's favorite villains." Faisal concluded that "In all cases, the film is definitely action-packed, and perhaps Saudis and Arabs may enjoy it more than Americans, as events are depicted as taking place in the Saudi capital…and it is not every day that you watch a Hollywood-style car chase happening on the streets of Riyadhmarker. For Westerners, the movie might be an interesting “insight” to a culture that is very different to their own."

Box office performance

The film grossed $17.1 million in 2,733 theaters in the United States and Canada on its opening weekend, ranking #2 at the box office. It also grossed £919,537 in the United Kingdommarker, about $1.9 million. As of December 15, 2007, the film has grossed an estimated $47,536,778 in the United States and $39,042,352 at the foreign box office with a worldwide gross of $86,579,130.

The film has been extremely successful in the rental market, grossing $77.4 million in the United States as of April 13 2008.

References

  1. Review, from The New York Times, June 19, 2007
  2. Abu Hamza al-Masri (أبو حمزة المصري Abū Ḥamzah al-Maṣriy) born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa
  3. The Kingdom's Peter Berg
  4. Dubai surfaces as regional film hub - Entertainment News, Inside Dubai, Media - Variety
  5. Nos. 51 and 52: Peter Berg, Director of 'The Kingdom' - Esquire
  6. Feeling the heat - The Boston Globe
  7. The Kingdom (2007) - Box office / business
  8. One for the Good Guys The Weekly Standard
  9. The Kingdom - Movie - Review - New York Times
  10. Into a Persian gulf | The Australian
  11. The King-Dumb
  12. The Kingdom | Movie Review | Entertainment Weekly
  13. Dead link
  14. Asia Times Online :: Middle East News - A failed kingdom
  15. Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English)
  16. As of October 21, 2007 using Yahoo!Finance


See also



External links




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