Kingdom of Heaven | Chicago Reader

Kingdom of Heaven

Making a movie about the Crusades in today's geopolitical climate must have seemed a delicate task, and screenwriter William Monahan approaches it in standard Hollywood fashion: by centering the story on a freethinking hero who might have been sent back in time by Norman Lear and People for the American Way. Orlando Bloom stars as a 12th-century blacksmith who's lost his wife, his child, and his faith; recruited for the armies of Christendom by his long-lost father (Liam Neeson), he journeys to Jerusalem, urges the occupying King Baldwin IV to preserve the peace with the Muslims, but ultimately agrees to defend the city against the forces of Saladin. Directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator), this is thoughtful and impressively mounted; Bloom lacks the gravitas required to hold it all together, but he's ably supported by Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Marton Csokas, and Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud. R, 138 min.

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