The Kingdom was a movie that I was expecting to do better when it was theatrically released. The buzz was high on this film and, when it opened, it seemed to open moderately well and then vanish. Given the political nature of the film, it was possible for it to go both ways, I suppose, and the mixed reviews it obtained seemed to indicate that the film was strong, yes, but not as strong as it could have been. And now with the film released to video, how does it pan out now? Does it live up to the lofty expectations that were hoisted upon it?
Oscar winners Jamie Foxx (Collateral) and Chris Cooper (Breach) and Golden Globe winners Jennifer Garner (Daredevil) and Jason Bateman (Smokin’ Aces) ignite the screen in this high-intensity thriller about a team of elite FBI agents sent to Saudi Arabia to solve a brutal mass murder and find a killer before he strikes again. Out of their element and under heavy fire, the team must join forces with their Saudi counterparts. As these unlikely allies begin to unlock the secrets of the crime scene, the team is led into a heart-stopping, do-or-die confrontation.
The plot for the movie itself is adequate and, in the hands of Peter Berg, pushes the movie forward. However, the main downfall for the movie is the cast. As good as it is, it seems to never naturally fit into the movie’s plot. Jamie Foxx is front and center and we’re shown that, constantly, which makes for some jarring moments onscreen. Jennifer Garner does well in the movie, but seems to be relying more on her past work in Alias and just copying it here. Jason Bateman doesn’t have much to do here. It seems that Chris Cooper seems to be the only one firmly in his element here, and he effortlessly slips right into the movie. It’s a good cast, don’t get me wrong, a great cast even, but they just don’t seem to either be on the right page at the same time or Berg just can’t handle them all that well.
For those looking for action, however, this movie has some remarkable sequences that are just kick-ass. As you’ll notice from the featurettes listed below, there are two main action sequences here, being the “Apartment shootout” and the “Freeway” sequences and, yes, they are great. However, getting to those sequences can test one’s patience. However, hang in there, as there are some long stretches, because these scenes are really worth it. However, outside of that, the film is really just average. There’s nothing really extraordinary about this film, and the action sequences can’t really save it. Toss in some tired clichés with the FBI trying to gain access to crime scenes, but being constantly rebuffed and crossing hairs with the foreign intelligence teams in Saudi Arabia, and the usual tension that comes with the plot line of these types of movies, and you have nothing new. However, the action sequences are really excellent and, despite the sometimes wieldy nature of the cast, some do actually bring some great work to the table. It’s a mixed bag overall, with the potential to be better.
The extras on the set actually compliment the main feature. One the DVD we get a some deleted scenes, a “Character By Character: The Apartment Shootout” featurette, a “Creating The Kingdom” featurette on the making of the film, a “Constructing The Freeway Sequence” the interesting “History of The Kingdom: An Interactive Timeline” and a commentary by director Peter Berg. Out of all of the, the “History of The Kingdom featurette is probably the best special feature on there, as it provides information both on and outside of the movie, plus provides some nice backdrop information for the movie’s plot. It’s a nice extra that actually does enhance the main feature in an interesting fashion. It’s a nice collection of extras, not great, mind you, but worth spending a little bit of time on.
No doubt that, with the holidays does, a lot of folks now have some gift certificates to use toward purchasing some goodies for themselves, DVDs included. It’s hard to say if those fine people will be putting their money toward The Kingdom. If anything, I’d have to say Rent the title first before opting whether or not to purchase it. The action is here and the cast is pretty good for the most part, but The Kingdom showed a lot of potential which it just can’t live up to. The DVD itself is a fine release, even if Universal’s recent disc labeling practice irks me, and the extras do provide both a fine look at the film and the film’s settings. Like I said, there are many pros and cons to the film, but it’s worth at least a rental.
The Kingdom is now available on DVD and HD-DVD.