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The Kingdom - action/adventure DVD review
THE KINGDOM rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America rating: 3 1/2 stars
Actors: Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven
Director: Peter Berg   Studio: Universal Studios
DVD release: 26 December 2007   Runtime: 110 minutes (1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD Features: Subtitles (English, French, Spanish), Audio Tracks (English, French, Spanish - Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Deleted scenes, "Character by Character: The Apartment Shootout," "Constructing the Freeway Sequence," "Creating the Kingdom," "History of the Kingdom: An Interactive Timeline," Commentary with director Peter Berg

With a script by Matthew Michael Carnahan Lions for Lambs and direction from Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights), The Kingdom stars Jamie Foxx as Ronald Fleury, the head of an elite FBI team that is sent to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to find the perpertrators of massive suicide attack on an American housing compound there.

The movie literally opens up explosively as the terorists attack the compound with gunfire while the Americans play softball. In the ensuing chaos, a suicide bomber comes onto the field and causes a huge amount of casualties. There is more, but you should watch the movie to get the full impact of it all.

Fleury eventually gets the okay to go Riyadh and investigate. The team is under both a time constraint (they only have five days) and, of course, the major component of cultural conflict, with which they get help from like-minded Saudi Colonel Faris Al-Ghazi.

After the massive opening, the movie never really decides what it wants to be. It shifts between feeling like a drama and moving at a procedural pace - not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are fond of procedurals a la CSI. But about two-thirds in, the movie shifts again and becomes an "A-Team" style shoot'em up that is thrilling but strains credulity, with the massive hail of bullets never adversely affecting the "good guys."

That said, the most surprisingly good aspect of The Kingdom is the performance of the cast. It's no surprise to get good acting out of Chris Cooper, but I wasn't expecting it from Jason Bateman. And, truth be told, my first reaction to a movie with Jeremy Piven (Entourage), Jason Bateman (Arrested Development) and Jamie Foxx in the cast would be one with more of a comedic slant. Piven doesn't stretch too far from his Ari Gold character, but this is the best performance from Foxx since Ray, and Jennifer Garner also looks good in the film.

Even with the uneven pace, the only truly distracting aspect of the movie is the ADD style of direction with the jiggly camera. It simply isn't needed. Perhaps it's acceptable to have that style in a movie based on video game, but here you have a world of talent on display and it detracts from the story. It's a minor quibble, though, as The Kingdom is an excellent piece of entertainment.
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reviewed by Bobby Blades
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