The Kingdom

Director Peter Berg tries to combine political correctness with high-powered action and winds up with some silly stereotypes and a lot of machine-gun fire. The action sequences—especially the long, final sequence—are great, but much of the film is tremendously ham-handed. For example, when FBI agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) meets his Saudi counterpart, Col. Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Bahrom), they at first butt heads. But then it turns out that Al Ghazi is a fan of The Incredible Hulk and The Six Million Dollar Man, and they realize that they’re both cops trying to catch the bad guys and dealing with interference from the damn bureaucrats. So they became friends. Which means that they’re buddies, and they’re cops! But this isn’t your standard buddy-cop movie. No, instead of one black cop and one white cop, this one’s about a black cop and an Arab cop. It’s also about the attempt to capture some terrorists who’ve been targeting Americans in Saudi Arabia; other than poorly constructed procedural story elements, the cop movie part works pretty well. It’s the speechifying and cultural commentary that comes off like it was written by a well-meaning freshman at UCLA who sees Arab-American relations as basically a variant on one of the Lethal Weapon movies.

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