The Kingdom | Chicago Reader

The Kingdom

Rated R 110 minutes

This action flick from director Peter Berg (The Rundown, Friday Night Lights) aspires to the geopolitical seriousness of Syriana, beginning with a credit-sequence primer on U.S.-Saudi relations and ending with a pointed moral about the cycle of vengeance. But don't be fooled—at its core this is just another piece of big-studio nothingness. After a horrific attack on U.S. citizens at an oil-company compound in Riyadh, a team of FBI investigators (Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Chris Cooper) arrives on the scene to track down the culprits. The characters are so underwritten they barely qualify as types, and the movie is badly paced, bookended by high-ordnance action sequences but painfully static in the middle. The politics never get past a vague mistrust of Arabs and finally settle at the level of exploitation with a cliff-hanger scene of Islamic terrorists preparing to sever Bateman's head on video. With Jeremy Piven.

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