2007-10-12 / Columnists

MovieScope

'The Kingdom' - Fantastic Four
Review By Robert Snyder

If only President Bush could send Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman into the Middle East to clean out all the terrorists. It seems so simple. Why hasn't he thought of it?

Maybe, he'll get the idea after seeing "The Kingdom." The recent rah-rah American film has the Fantastic Four actors playing FBI agents, who slip into Saudi Arabia to avenge a terrorist attack at a western oil company compound, where innocent U.S. kids and their mothers are killed during a baseball game. To heighten the sympathy, agent Ronald Fleury (Foxx) hears the bad news while attending a show-andtell dad's day at his adorable little boy's school. When he learns that an FBI buddy, who also has an adorable little boy, has been blown up, Fleury is furious. After smooth-talking the Saudi sheiks for permission, he collects his team: explosives expert Grant Sykes (Cooper), forensic hottie Janet Mayes (Garner), and intelligence whiz Adam Levitt (Bateman).

Arriving in Arabia, it's obvious that the arrogant local security police under Colonel Faris (Ashraf Barhorn), who too has an adorable little boy, are clueless as to how to catch terrorists. This is a job for Super Americans.

Still, the foursome is at odds with the proud Saudis and sycophantical U.S. officials. With the real bad guys uncaught, the A-Team is escorted to the airport. On the way, they are attacked, with Levitt getting dragged away and set up for a decapitation photo op (shades of Daniel Pearl).

However, in the "Blackhawk Down" shoot-em-up finale, the Amazing Americans drive into the heart of terroristinhabited urban area and blast their way to Levitt's salvation, sustaining hardly a scratch (Colonel Faris is not so lucky).

Directed by Peter Berg ("Friday Night Lights") from a Matthew Michael Carnahan script, "The Kingdom" wants it both ways: A newsreel docudrama and a comic hero fantasy. And never has Arizona looked more like Arabia. (On a TV talk show, Ms. Garner was recently asked how she liked Saudi Arabia. Puzzled, she answered, "I haven't been there").

For those who want to be pumped with neocon patriotic fervor amid swinging camera confusion, "The Kingdom" is for you. If Foxx's Fantastic Four could find a way into Bush's reality, the Iraq War could be "Mission Accomplished" in an hour and forty minutes.

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