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Film Drama 'The Kingdom' Tackles Terrorism

Peter Berg's film "The Kingdom" about a terrorist attack against an American family compound in Saudi Arabia, brings high drama and conflicting emotions to the large screen. VOA's Penelope Poulou tells us about it.

On a sunny day at an American compound in Saudi Arabia, terrorists appear out of nowhere shooting at American families who are picnicking while watching a softball game.

More than a hundred Americans are killed. The shock of the attack reverberates through official Washington.

The FBI director sends an evidence response team in Riyadh.

Once in Riyadh, special agent Ronald Fleury and his forensic team face resistance from the Saudi government. But Fleury manages to convince the administration to let him and his team lend a helping hand into the investigation.

Still, although the FBI team gets permission to visit the crime scene, it is not allowed to conduct a forensic investigation.

Saudi Colonel Feris Al Ghazi, played by Ashraf Barhom, is assigned to keep an eye on the Americans. This creates a strain in the relationship between the two men.

Eventually, Feris Al Ghazi and Ronald Fleury develop a friendship as their mutual commitment to fight terrorism transcends ethnic boundaries.

At some point, Feris Al Ghazi says to Fleury, "I have two daughters and a son, beautiful son, and I find myself in a place where I no longer care about why we are attacked. I only care that one hundred people woke up a few mornings ago [and] had no idea it was their last. When we catch the men who murdered these people, I don't care to even ask them one question. I want to kill them. Do you understand?

Ronald Fleury says, "Yes, I do."

Director Peter Berg crams a lot of issues into this movie. "The Kingdom" opens as a subdued, yet taut thriller. Turf wars and diplomatic tension threaten to explode at any minute. It is an emotional tale of victims' pain and need for revenge, and terrorists' warped concept of self-sacrifice.

In the last 30 minutes, the movie unravels into a merciless shooting rampage that leaves viewers on the edge of their seats.

The stellar cast adds credibility and depth to the plot. Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx plays special agent Ronald Fleury. Jennifer Garner plays Janet Mayes, the team pathologist, and award winning actor Chris Cooper stars as Grant Sykes, an explosives expert.

As good as Peter Berg's balancing act is between the American "cowboy" mentality on one hand and an exclusionist Saudi Arabian culture on the other, the intensity of the fighting overwhelms the senses. At times it feels like a "shoot-'em-up" video game. As guns blaze and blood and gore keep our adrenaline pumping our killing instincts awake.