‘The Kingdom’ Cuts Complex Cultural Barriers

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It’s a sunny day and families are enjoying a picnic and a friendly game of softball. Children are running around, smiling and laughing. Everything seems to be at ease, but then the shooting begins. Explosions separate families and steal loved ones from the face of the earth. The bombs scatter small pieces of shrapnel about the field. Over 100 innocent people die in homes where they thought they were welcome.

Peter Berg’s film “The Kingdom” is about a Saudi terrorist attack against an American family compound in Saudi Arabia. Berg’s drama introduces a hot current event to the big screen in a compelling way which captivates the viewers with contrasting emotions people have only heard about in the news.

In response to the terrorist attack, the FBI sends in a team of special agents Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx), Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper) and Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman) to investigate the attack on a secret five-day trip to Saudi Arabia. Upon arrival, the team is met by Saudi Arabian officials who are skeptical of the American;s purpose in their country. Saudi Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom) is in charge of the team’s safety, and he enforces the harsh rules that the Saudi government puts on the team, preventing them from performing a smooth investigation.

The film tackles the issues of terrorism and overcoming seemingly insurmountable cultural barriers.

The stellar performances, character development and action makes “The Kingdom” exciting. Foxx shines with his passion and intense patriotic dedication to exterminate the terrorists.

At first, Al Ghazi, like all the other Saudi cops, has no trust in the Americans. Although he is fighting to get rid of terrorists too, Al Ghazi wants to investigate in his own way. As the film develops, however, Al Ghazi and Agent Fleury create a special bond once they realize they are alike in their values and beliefs.

Throughout the course of the film, their connection helps Al Ghazi gain trust in the Americans. Although the other Saudi overseers repeatedly try and send the Americans home, the team and Al Ghazi continue to look for the terrorists with a persistent passion to end terrorism.

Even though “The Kingdom” is classified as a drama, the characters provide a little bit of comic relief in times of death and despair. Most of the laughs are on account of the social barriers between the American agents and the Saudi Arabia police. For example, Al Ghazi winces every time Leavitt and he says like a child, “Stop saying those bad words! I don’t like those bad words!”

Another time, Agent Fleury shouts “shit” in response to an obstacle they face during the investigation. Al Ghazi turns around and asks, “What, you need bathroom?”

Overall, “The Kingdom” really out-does itself as it copes with the sensitive topic of terrorism. While the action may push viewers to the edge of their seats, the lesson learned is far more valuable. No matter the race or social background, people are very alike and need to realize that their similarities are much more important than their differences.