You can picture the scene... Director Peter Berg storms into producer Michael Mann’s office: “Hey Michael, wouldn’t it be great to do a homicide procedural investigation in the most hostile circumstances… like Saudi Arabia?” he yells. Michael grins: “Yeah!” So begins production on The Kingdom, a steroid-pumped action flick that doesn’t so much grapple with Middle Eastern politics as shove an assault rifle in their face while yelling, “Who’s the frigging daddy, you rag-head mofos?” It’s xenophobic, reactionary and L-O-U-D.
There’s a lot of shouting on the DVD too: “I think Jen Garner is just fucking really COOL!” shouts Berg on his effusive commentary track, as an FBI Evidence Response Team led by Jamie Foxx lands in Riyadh to investigate a terrorist attack on American civilians. Promising a probing comment on America’s murky relationship with Saudi Arabia (check out Craig Unger’s book House Of Bush, House Of Saud), Berg and Mann instead proceed to churn out a polished, high-end Chuck Norris flick, in thrall to explosions, semi-automatic weapons and flag-waving patriotism. Hell, yeah!
“I fucking LOVE that!” yells a Red Bull-guzzling Berg in an 18-minute (!) featurette about crashing cars. Even Garner is mainlining testosterone here: “We got to hang out with the real versions of ourselves and BLOW THINGS UP!” she screeches over-excitedly about her time at FBI Bomb School. Hell, yeah!
Ironically enough, Berg’s yak track reveals an alternative explosive ending that was too hot to handle. Our patriotic American heroes blown up by a lead character turned suicide bomber…? Hell, no! Not in this movie...