I made it to a movie theater tonight after dinner and watched the new political thriller The Kingdom, starring Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, and Jason Bateman (Yes, Jason Bateman! He did a great job!)
I won't give away the whole plot, but the story involves FBI agent Foxx and his team who go to Saudi Arabia to investigate a terrorist attack that killed dozens of Americans living there. The movie was raw, riveting, and realistic; portraying both the culture of Saudi Arabia and the violence of that world with equal prowess.
WARNING: SEMI-SPOILER ALERT!
One of my favorite scenes from the movie involved a theme which usually makes my teeth itch. There is this phenomenon in Hollywood where, in a fight scene between a waif-ish woman and a big beefy guy, the woman will pull out her kung-fu and flexible flying kick and lay waste to the hapless bully. A now defunct movie reviewer named Radio Free Rocky D called this phenomenon Skinny Girls Who Kick Ass. What made The Kingdom so great was that they took a scene involving Jennifer Garner's character taking on a larger male Saudi opponent, and this time, the movie-makers got it right. Oh, she still wins the fight, but not easily. The bad guy is punching the hell out of her and throwing her across the room. Garner however doesn't pull out the ridiculous kicking moves. Instead, she is writhing out of his grasp, biting him, and when the opportunity arises, she begins stabbing him repeatedly with a knife. The other thing the movie got right is that during this fight, when the bad guy is stabbed, he doesn't go down with the first plunge of the blade; no, he keeps fighting like hell. In a real fight for your life, the adrenaline is pumping so hard, you don't really feel knife blows unless the blade gets somewhere real vital.
SEMI-SPOILER ALERT OVER
The realism can be explained by the fact that Michael Mann was one of the producers. To appreciate Mann's penchant for realism, all you have to do is watch that amazing footage that I recently posted of Tom Cruise's character dispatching those two hoods in Collateral, which Mann also produced. Or the botched bank robbery firefight from Heat. Michael Mann produced and directed that one as well. I ought to post that scene.
The other good thing about The Kingdom is that, in a break from Hollywood's War on Terrorism trend, the Americans in this movie are the good guys. Imagine that. I highly recommend The Kingdom, if nothing else but for the last 20 minutes of the movie. At one point during that stretch, I put my fingers to my neck and checked my pulse. It was throbbing with a quickness.
Go see The Kingdom.
Now, one thing I cannot recommend is going to a movie theater ever again. There was a couple near the front of the theater who brought their (approximately) 18 month old son with them to the movie. Here was a movie with loud explosions, firefights, graphic - and I do mean graphic - violence, yelling, car chases, cursing... and here was this idiot couple bringing their innocent little son to be exposed to all this, while at the same time exposing me and my fellow movie goers to the little boy's crying and chirping. Hey, I have two kids age three and under myself, but one thing I would never do would be to subject them to an adult movie like that, and subject the audience to my loud children. Some people have no brains or no shame.
Good Day to You, Sir