Monday, December 03, 2007

The Kingdom

Hollywood has finally dished out a movie about terrorism without the "fighting for freedom and democracy" cliche. As I had once blogged about the movie "World Trade Center", America and Hollywood will have to deal with the issues up front. The producers of "Kingdom" have to be commended for making a movie that at least tries to do that.

At least the movie was shot in the Middle East and of course it wasn't Saudi Arabia but a nearby country. The opening terrorist attack scene on a Western housing complex was as realistic as a movie can be. And this is not a film about US troops storming the Kingdom (the Saudis wouldn't allow that) but an FBI team lead by Jamie Foxx' character, Chris Cooper as the southern toughie, Jennifer Garner as the woman agent who in the end did in one of the Jihadis was sent to do a forensic investigation with the blessings of a Saudi prince. Israeli actor Ashraf Barhom has a scintillating role as the Saudi cop who was first instructed to keep the FBI agents on a tight leash but as the details of the terrorist plot and attack began to emerge, got the prince to relent a bit and the investigation proceeded as much as the Americans wanted.

The movie gives as a slice of Saudi society and the inequities with it (5000 princes each with humongous palaces paid for by oil companies). We get to see a look into a Muslim family both before and after the climactic shootout scenes. Also we get to see that Americans are not as culturally sensitive as they should be.

The end scenes were your typical Hollywood fare. After the US embassy had ordered the FBI agents home, their convoy was attacked by terrorists and you have the RPG shootouts. Here Garner (who as done action before) was good. Of course you can guess what happened. The shootout scenes should make moviegoers shout expletives. The whole shebang does look like a scene from a future Rambo remake!

But in the end, both Foxx's character and the grandaughter of the Big Old Jihadist honcho would say the usual "I'd like to kill them all" line in revenge films. This leads us to reflect on the meaning of vengeance. Major religions have teachings that say vengeance is best left to the Deity. But the film does seem to make Richard Dawkins believable. Why does belief in God result in these things? But of course belief in no God has resulted in the same things.

Perhaps an asteroid hitting the Kingdom, Washington DC, etc or better yet the whole planet and sending our species into the fossil record may be the answer. Or as that Twilight Zone episode "A Small Talent for War" suggests, we get zapped by aliens!

No comments: