The Kingdom

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
The Kingdom Movie Poster Image
Intense, bloody look at Mid East violence.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The FBI team is stalwart, and the Saudi police colonel is noble (tensions between them evolve into friendship and mutual respect). Bombers are relentlessly villainous.

Violence

Opening montage shows archival news footage of war and terrorism (including a plane hitting the World Trade Center on 9/11). The early Riyadh attack scene includes explosions; shootings of men in uniforms, civilians, and children (a child watches a man get shot); bloody limbs, torsos, and faces; many bodies falling; and a suicide bomber exploding a grenade. Observers videotape the attack; the footage appears again in the film, and flashbacks show the attack several times. A forensics team examines the bomb crater, including body parts. Tense confrontation leads to a man slapping another. Retired bomb-maker talks about being haunted by "dead faces" and shows his hand, which is missing fingers. Roadside bomb explodes a car. Shoot-out leaves bloody bodies (shown in close-up). Chase scene features cars crashing and frenzied camerawork. Team member is kidnapped, dragged (leaving a bloody trail), tied up, tortured, and very bloody. Team's assault on the kidnappers' hideout involves lots of shooting, chaos, and noise (as well as children as witnesses), and the death of a key character.

Sex

Brief reference to Janet's T-shirted figure, which Saudi hosts believe should be covered more completely (Ron says she must "dial down the boobies"). Brief kiss.

Language

Language includes lots of uses of "f--k" (20+), plus "s--t," "bulls--t," "goddamn," "son of a bitch," "lucky bastard," and other phrases ("circle jerk," "you big queer").

Consumerism

Images of or references to CNN, Larry King, Washington Post, Scrabble, L.L. Bean, Washington Wizards, Kobe Bryant, Rambo, the Hulk, Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man), and The Pixies (band T-shirt).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A few scenes of a character smoking cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this intense, bloody movie isn't for kids. There are explosions, shootings, hand-to-hand combat, torture, kidnapping, a careening car chase, explicit shots of bloody bodies and body parts, and more. The overall plot and themes are also mature -- terrorism, graphic crime investigation, children at risk and killed, etc. -- and the camerawork is especially chaotic (some viewers may be bothered by its pretty much nonstop movement). Language includes multiple uses of "f--k" (which offends the Saudi police chief) and other profanity.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byD-Fresh June 16, 2011

Great clean action movie

This is the reality of who and what we are fighting in the middle east. Two out of five stars... come on now. Not only is this a good clean action movie, but it... Continue reading
Adult Written byMovie Man September 6, 2009

Powerful, Violent Mystery-Thriller in Middle East.

This was a very good film. The performances were superb and the direction very well done. It can get confusing at times, but overall, the story seems fairly cle... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byJFN1234 March 20, 2009
I thought this movie was very powerful but some parts of the movie where bombs explode and show bodies being blown up. but over all it was a good movie.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

What's the story?

After civilians are killed in a post-9/11 terrorist attack in Riyadh, the FBI calls in Special Agent Ron Fleury (Jamie Foxx), who quickly assembles crack team -- forensics examiner Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), explosives technician Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), and intelligence analyst Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman).The team heads to Riyadh, where tensions are high. The Americans bristle at predictable "backwards" thinking from the locals, including efforts to curtail their tough-guy language, conceal Janet's figure, and restrict their access to the crime scene. Ron insists they be allowed to look for evidence, question witnesses, and even go off the compound in order to determine the bombers' identities, though everyone seems to know right away that the head villain is Abu Hamza (Hezi Saddik). To offset the "bad Arab" vibe, the film also includes a very good one, police colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), who inspires Ron to persist. Since the team has only 36 hours to build a case, they work fast and rather ruthlessly, inciting the outrage of local authorities and, apparently, terrorists, who decide to take revenge by exploding cars and kidnapping a team member.

Is it any good?

Equal parts action movie, police procedural, and cross-cultural tolerance lesson, THE KINGDOM boasts charismatic stars and a topical focus. But for all its energy and pyrotechnic brilliance, Peter Berg's new film is strikingly old-fashioned. It didn't have to be this way.

While it's obvious that the team will recover their man, the film underscores his brutal abuse by hooded captors -- just to make sure you know they deserve all bad things coming to them. While the U.S. offensive is supported by the Riyadh police (especially noble Al Ghazi), the focus is on the Americans, who are characterized as fierce, committed, and utterly selfless. Though Ron admits to Al Ghazi that he's aware of his nation's many imperfections, the film seems stuck on this primary points: When push comes to shove, Americans are right.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how violence is portrayed in this movie. Is it realistic or gratuitous? What message is the movie sending about the cycle of violence in the Middle East? Who "wins" in this movie? Families can also discuss how the U.S. FBI team members react to their new environment in Saudi Arabia. Are they respectful or arrogant? How do they get what they want, even when they're supposed to obey local restrictions?

Movie details

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