In “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” Gyllenhaal plays sixth century street waif Dastan, plucked into royalty by King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) to become framed in a scam by evil Uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley), which our hero has to literally jump his way out of.
And jump he does. Under the mentorship of parkour expert David Belle, Gyllenhaal does his macho best to bounce like the action figure in the popular “Prince of Persia” video game and away from his role as the gay cowboy in the Oscar-winning “Brokeback Mountain.”
Of course, he has a female love interest. Leading the Persian army, Dastan and his adoptive brothers, Tus (Richard Coyle) and Garsia (Toby Kebbell), take over the Holy City of Alamut (on the pretext of finding “weapons of mass destruction”). There, they discover the beautiful Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton). After much in-trigue and deception, we find that Tamina is the guardian of a magic dagger with the power to reverse time. Uncle Nizam wants this to rectify a few historical goofs which, once changed, will make him king, rather than brother Sharaman.
On hand for comedy relief and a paycheck is famed actor Alfred Molina as a Ostrich-kissing sheik. He supplies token Tea Party sentiment in his harangue against taxation which, like the “weapons of mass destruction” reference, provides an out-of-place nod to the more modern world. If the movie were shot a little later, we’d probably see a deepwater oil spill.
The question for Bruckheimer is … will “Prince of Persia” pull in the small fries to make a successful franchise?