Jamie Foxx delivers another solid performance in the action-thriller “The Kingdom,” directed by Peter Berg. But it is newcomer actor Ashraf Barhom who really steals the show.After a terrorist attack on an American residential compound in Riyadh, a team of FBI specialists led by agent Ronald Fleury (Foxx) is sent to Saudi Arabia to track down a radical faction that is determined to rid the country of westerners.
Opposite Fox, an unexpectedly brilliant performance is provided by Ashraf Barhom, who plays Colonel Faris Al Ghazi, the Saudi Policeman who is entrusted to protect the team during their investigation. Barhom’s character acts as a metaphor for the state of Saudi Arabia, which has unstable associations with western powers while struggling to maintain allegiance with conventional Arab society.
Jeremy Piven’s portrayal of an apprehensive Damon Shmidt, the American ambassador in Saudi Arabia, exemplifies the American attitude towards the team’s presence.
Oscar award winner Chris Cooper gives a stellar supporting performance as FBI agent, Grant Sykes and Jason Bateman also competently assumes the role of agent Adam Leavitt.
Jennifer Garner offers a lackluster performance as agent Janet Mays, whose relationship to an FBI agent killed in the attack serves as the only reason for her seemingly unnecessary presence in the investigation.
The relationship between Arab society and the American team is tense throughout the film, and the agents are continuously mired by the Saudi government, whose desire to handle the situation themselves commands that the team stay out of harm’s way and thus the investigation.
Audiences will enjoy the nuances of the political struggle between the two nations illustrated by the team’s interaction with Saudi officials, and the respective characters of Fleury and Al Ghazi.
Although the plot is politically charged and the substance of the film lies in the drama of the investigation, the opening terrorist attack, car bombings, and an intense gun battle in the streets of Riyadh will keep action fans satisfied throughout the film.