The filmmakers and ad campaigns would love for you to believe that The Kingdom is a timely, action-packed political thriller—The Bourne Ultimatum crossed with Syriana. Unfortunately, the politics are somewhat incidental to the story, and there are but two action scenes to speak of. Still, you could do much worse than this as far as timely action-dramas go.
This fictional story, inspired by the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack, begins with an incident that feels lifted straight from the headlines. It's a bright summer day as American oil company employees and their families enjoy a neighborhood picnic and baseball game at their home compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A picturesque, almost suburban setting, until the unthinkable happens: terrorists infiltrate the compound with an SUV and machine guns, mowing down innocents left and right. Later, a bomb explodes in the aftermath, killing hundreds and wounding hundreds more.
How should America respond? Higher-ups like Attorney General Gideon Young (Danny Huston) want to handle the delicate situation with diplomacy, respecting the wishes of the Saudi Prince to let Arabia take charge. The FBI is far less passive, especially when one of its own is killed in the blast. After some covert negotiations, a special evidence response team is assembled, led by Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx), with permission to investigate Riyadh for five days and root out the terrorist threat while the trail is still hot.
Of course it's never simple when culture clashes are involved, especially in the world's powder keg. The team is initially hampered by protocol, allowed only to observe with a Saudi police escort, and restricted to makeshift accommodations in a gymnasium. But the investigation ...1
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