3.1.08

Guns don't kill people. Americans kill people.

Or at least that's what I'm led to believe after watching The Kingdom.

Remember all those clich├ęd old films from the Cold War? The ones where ideological and cultural boundaries are effortlessly overcome in a single bound by two strong men out to "do good". The ones where years of fear, suspicion and misunderstanding are all cleared 15 minutes before the interval, so that the second half can have decent gun play, puns and witty asides.

Well some Hollywood hack dug up a bombed script circa 1980, polished up the political differences to reflect today's religious tensions, and plugged it straight into post 9/11 celluloid. And since Genocidal Americans vs. Islamic Zealots are cinema du jour, it saw the light of day, complete with de-sat, dramatic grading, "meaningful" music and lots of blood and gore.

And before you ask, the film doesn't require the mere suspension of disbelief. No. It means putting disbelief in a plain brown envelope, along with a little white chalk powder, and sending it through the U S Mail.

Are we seriously expected to believe that a lowly FBI Special Agent is going to be able to arm twist the Saudis into giving him permission to take his team to the scene of the crime, in Saudi, after having been denied said permission by the US State Dept., the US Attorney General's Office, and the White House coffee boy?

Then, are we seriously expected to believe that said gung-ho team of FBI agents will be allowed to run amok through inner-city Riyadh, going hand-to-hand with the Saudi armed forces and indulging in a 20 minute shoot-out with "the bad guys"?

And last of all, are we seriously expected to believe that these G.I. Joe feebs manage to get through it all unscathed, thanks to their superior training, but that the Saudi cop manages to get himself killed?

(As a puzzling aside, why is it this film - and all its zillions of predecessors - rely so heavily on cops, to be the buddies-through-it-all? And why does one of them always have to die? Has anyone ever asked the cops - any cops - what they feel about it?)

If there is one redeeming feature about the film, it's the main title sequence. Interesting. Well done. And though I don't much care for its 60-second-TV-commercial approach to the history involved, it really did get my attention.

The main title, was good. But not good enough to warrant sitting through an hour and a half of a Jamie Foxx playing an intellectual Rambo in the heart of Riyadh.