Friday, September 28, 2007

A quick note about The Kingdom

It’s really not that bad people.

I’m in slight ass covering mode at the moment after being first out of the gate with a mostly positive review earlier in the year. My bullshit detector’s pretty high and while the film’s flaws weren’t lost on me I came to the conclusion that the film was definitely worth your time, predominantly for the film’s first and third acts and the performance of Ashraf Barhom. Is it probably too jingoistic for its own good? Yeah. Does it use contemporary fears as a pretense for what amounts to a well-constructed popcorn flick? Yep. But my God, it seems like every film that tries to address current world events either ends up as inert crap like Syriana or a condescending brow-beater like In the Valley of Elah. So a film tries to quicken the pulse a bit and it’s treated like John Wayne’s The Green Berets?

And the kicker is Universal screened the film like crazy for the press all throughout the summer so they must have thought it would be well received. Oh well, the public decides starting tomorrow. I think it will play well all through the next month or so, but what do I know?

No mini-review for this one. If you care you can paw through the month-old gargantuan piece.


Dan Coyle said...

Whoa, the fistfight over at THND over Boone's review is pretty nasty.

Andrew Dignan said...

I'm supposed to see the film proper in a few hours and provided I've got any energy left, I will attempt to defend the film over there. I'm working off of 6 month old memories of a workprint so I don't want to get myself in too deep without any ammo (as it were), but I'm disappointed if not quite surprised that the discussion has devolved into "war mongers" vs. "hippies." I don't see the harm in a film that presents an idealized dramatization of a US agency being able to swoop into a foreign land to avenge itself, accomplish its localized mission and not leave the job unfinished and the entire region in utter shambles. Rather than a "justification" for invading Iraq or self-celebratory propaganda piece on the might of the US armed forces, I think the film is more acting out of frustration that we haven't been able to, say, kill Osama Bin Laden in six years let alone tracking him down over the course of a long weekend.

I still contend the film is a Michael Mann film that he had Peter Berg direct as thematically it adheres closer to his wheelhouse than Berg's (by virtue of the fact that Berg has no discernible thematic wheelhouse). The film views tracking down Islamic fundamentalist terrorists as a job no different than planning a bank heist or infiltrating a drug ring or being a hitman; something done with a bear minimum of fuss but with a lot of style, a lot of toys and hanging sense of emptiness. There's really no joy to Foxx and company's actions, it's all about doing a job and going home.

But then again, I also liked Black Hawk Down and the first few seasons of "24" so maybe I'm just "Neo-Con scum. "

Dan Coyle said...

I thought Black Hawk Down was technically sound and admirable but had the inadverdent effect of looking like an Aryan recruitment film, particularly in the scene where Ron Eldard's character was swarmed. Scott did get one of the best performances out of the Eldard I've ever seen, though.

24 I still like, since the head writer is a bleeding heart liberal who wrote some kickass XF episodes, while Surnow dances his dance for the Limbaugh crowd.