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Film / The Kingdom (2007)

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Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan and directed by Peter Berg, The Kingdom is a Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie released in 2007. It follows a team of FBI agents as they investigate a terrorist bombing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is a War On Terror movie with a focus on criminal investigation rather than military action. Stars Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman and Ashraf Barhom. The movie opens with a succinct and generally accurate history of the interactions between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Following the credits, the movie opens with a terrorist attack (calling to mind both the Khobar Towers bombing and the Riyadh Compound Attack) on civilians in Saudi Arabia. Agent Ronald Fleury and a team of agents are sent to Saudi Arabia to "assist" the Saudis in the investigation of the attack. The film was criticized for its portrayal of Muslims (despite the highly sympathetic treatment of the Saudi investigators) and had a mediocre showing at the box office.

Not to be confused with the trope about a monarch's property, nor with the urban collaborative project The Kingdom.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Ambiguous Ending: The film ends with Hamza's grandchild reflecting on his grandfather's Last Words to "kill them all", but also remembering Mayes' giving him a lollipop. The boy looks over the city with a confused expression, leaving the audience unsure if he'll follow in his grandfather's footsteps or let the vendetta die.
  • Arab Oil Sheikh: Prince Ahmed bin Khaled. Unlike many similar portrayals of such characters, his is mainly positive, as it is after his meeting with the FBI agents he decides to allow them permission to investigate the bombing more thoroughly.
  • The Atoner: Izz Al-Din is a former Al-Qaeda bomb-maker who turned himself in during an amnesty due to killing enough people that his conscience wouldn't let him sleep for seventeen straight nights. Now he works at a youth center and is willing to serve as a consultant for his former enemies.
  • Badass Bookworm: Janet is a polite, methodical forensic examiner who guns down several terrorists in the climax while doing well in close combat against a Giant Mook.
  • Bash Brothers: Fleury and Faris shoot their way though the apartment building in the finale.
  • Beard of Barbarism: Subverted, in that while the FBI members are all clean shaven, the sympathetic Saudi members have beards, while the non-sympathetic types are clean shaven.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted, the team looks like crap after the final battle.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Haytham and another policeman ram the car containing the terrorist gunmen right before they can shoot a boy on a tricycle.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Abu Hamza and his cell are all killed, but so is Colonol Faris. It's also implied that Hamza's grandson will continue his grandfather's violence against the Americans.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: How Fleury is able to get his team to Saudi Arabia. He meets with the Saudi Ambassador and claims that a journalist he knows who is "known for exaggeration" will report that three wives of members of the Saudi Royal Family donated to a charity linked to a terror group in Jakarta, and the story will spread across the US, unless he is granted access. Throughout the entire conversation he states he doesn't want this to happen, and that he is a "friend of Saudi Arabia".
  • Book Ends: Fleury starts and ends the film telling the sons of the deceased Agent Fran Manner and Colonel Faris al-Ghazi how he knew each of them as good friends.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted, the Fleury/Faris duo empty three firearms each during the final shootout, and both Mayes and Fleury are seen reloading.
  • Censored Child Death: While children die in the bombing, this is only conveyed through dialogue, a small baseball cap lying on the ground, and a boy who may have still been alive being carried in a man's arms. The two children who receive the most screentime during the attack (a boy on a tricycle and a girl playing softball) both appear to survive and the two families interviewed by the team only lost one (adult) member between them. 
  • Chekhov's Gun: Shrapnel evidence gathered from the crime scene which included nails, nuts, bolts and even marbles are later seen being used by the bomb makers during the initial raid. An informant, a former terrorist, later gives advice about bomb makers occasionally losing limbs or fingers to their line of work. After the final gun battle, an innocent child is revealed to be in possession of the same type of marble, and her grandfather sitting in the same room is revealed to have missing fingers, pinning his identity as Abu Hamza.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Averted. Mayes is nearly killed several times as Fleury and Faris's separate firefight sends bullets through walls and a grenade blows a hole in a wall.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mandy Ripon, the mother of one of Jackson’s surviving neighbors and the only useful witness among the American survivors, is a minor example.
  • Cycle of Revenge: At the end of the movie, the camera zooms in on the eyes of Abu Hamza's grandson, as it did during scenes of Hamza himself, suggesting the child is going to possibly follow his footsteps.
  • The Dragon: Abu Hamza's elder grandson Ali, the one who shoots Al-Ghazi in the climax.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Abu Hamza's terrorists have access to Saudi police uniforms.
  • Emergency Weapon: When they land in Riyadh, Fleury forces Sykes to surrender his backup piece in an ankle holster in addition to his primary sidearm.
  • A Father to His Men: when Sergeant Haytham is accused of being an Al Hamza accomplice due to requisitioning extra uniforms and killing a man they would have liked to question, Faris checks on his claims that it was because his shirts get stained with sweat faster than most peoples, finds proof of it and gets Haytham released from undergoing their superiors Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique.
  • FBI Agent: At one point there is a whole room of them, but the movie focuses on a team of four.
  • Fish out of Water: played for drama with Fleury and his team, not that they’d admit it.
  • General Ripper: General Al Abdulmalik is a version of this focused on intelligence and security rather than combat, but his methods show hints of He Who Fights Monsters, he has few if any Pet the Dog moments and his methods aren’t quite as smart or effective as he thinks.
  • Giant Mook: One of these has a brutal fight with Janet Mayes and Adam Leavitt. He easily throws both of them across the room.
  • Good Ol' Boy: Sykes. Also Southern-Fried Genius. Also Mr. Fixit.
  • Gotta Kill 'Em All: The film's ending reveals this to be the case for both the Americans and the terrorists. Fleury had promised Mayes that he'd kill everyone involved in the terrorist cell, while Abu Hamza promised his grandson they'd kill all of the American infidels. It's a dour demonstration of how similar the two parties really are.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Saudi State Police, which is a fictionalised version of the General Directorate of Public Security.
  • Groin Attack: During the final fight, Janet stabs the muscular terrorist in the groin.
  • Hostage Video: Leavit is used in one after being kidnapped by the terrorists, but it gets interrupted by his colleagues.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In the final battle, the FBI Agents and Saudi investigators kill plenty of bad guys by taking positions and with precise calm shots. The enemy mooks meanwhile are shooting all over the place and hit nothing. The director mentions that he asked a group of ex-special forces people watching a preview if it wasn't a bit too implausible that none of the good guys were getting hit by the terrorists in the final shootout. They assured him that such lousy accuracy was nothing unusual.
  • Impersonating an Officer:
    • In the opening attack in the American residential compound, the two gunmen and suicide bomber are able to infiltrate the area and carry out their attack as they are dressed as Saudi State Police officers.
    • The terrorists who attack the convoy and kidnap Leavitt in the third act are also dressed as police officers, and drive a SUV which is identical to those used in the police convoy.
  • Jerkass: Aaron Jackson, an American oil worker who lives on the compound. It's implied that he Took a Level in Jerkass after his wife was murdered by the terrorists in the opening, as he begins mouthing off and insulting the Mulsim Saudi police who are aiding the FBI in their investigation.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Between the Saudi State Police and the Saudi Special Security Forces when the former wants to investigate a building of interest in the investigation. It results in Fleury manhandling the commander after he assaults Al-Ghazi, and Brigadier General Al Abdulmalik of the Saudi National Guard backing them up.
  • Meaningful Echo: "We're going to kill them all" - the words said by Fleury to Mayes at the beginning, and by Abu Hamza to his grandson at the end.
  • Meaningful Name: Both the first and the last of Faris al-Ghazi's names mean warrior in some way, "Faris" meaning "knight" and "Ghazi" meaning a type holy warrior.
  • Mirror Character: Faris and Sgt. Haytham are shown to be devoted family men, with Faris having a wife and children and Haytham taking care of his elderly father. Abu Hamza similarly has a large family of children and grandchildren, one of whom he comforts as he lays dying.
  • Mirroring Factions: The film's ending shows this to be the case with the Americans and the terrorists, particularly in terms of the Cycle of Revenge. Fleury reveals that he told Mayes that they'd "kill them all" for bombing the American complex, while Abu Hamza told his grandson that "we will kill them all".
  • Missing Mom: Mrs. Jackson to her and Aaron’s briefly seen children.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Mayes is a competent & effective Agent, but her personal relationship to the incident is made clear in a way that is not for Sykes.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Averted. Mayes only defeats the above mentioned Giant Mook once she draws her knife.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • After a member of the Saudi National Guard slaps Colonel Al Ghazi when they start arguing over jurisdiction to enter a building, Fleury disarms him and takes him down in a rather spectacular fashion, leaving him clutching his head on the ground as the State Police enter the building.
    • Again, the fight with the Giant Mook. Basically most of the fight has Mayes being slammed around the room by him, and Mayes retaliates by biting the Giant Mook's ear off, then shooting his leg, then stabbing him several times in the groin and the chest before finishing him off by stabbing him in the head. Ouch.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Damon Schmidt, the Deputy Chief of Mission who keeps pestering the FBI agents to leave the country, despite having not finished their investigation.
  • Patched Together from the Headlines: The film is based on the Khobar Towers bombing, the 2004 Khobar massacre, and the Riyadh compound bombings.
  • Papa Wolf: The whole FBI team, plus the two Saudi investigators, goes nuclear when Leavitt gets snatched by the terrorists.
  • Post-9/11 Terrorism Movie: Type Three - but a better-done example of the trope
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Just before the team storms an apartment building full of Islamic Terrorists:
    Fleury: Which side of the door do you think Allah's on?
    Al Ghazi: My friend, we are about to find out!
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: FBI Director Robert Grace, who butts heads with the Attorney General and puts his job on the line in order to secure authorisation for the team to be deployed to Saudi Arabia.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Instead of being fired, Fleury negotiated for Fran Miller to be assigned to Saudi Arabia as the FBI Legal Attaché after he broke the jaw of someone who insulted Janet years before.
  • Sergeant Rock: Haytham, perfectly shown in the opening scene, as soon as he realizes someone is shooting up the compound he is guarding, he jumps into a car, rams the assailants, killing one in the process and then executes the second one when he refuses to surrender.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Averted, Prince Ahmed is briefly seen taking his young son with him to talk to reporters, apparently making efforts to educate him about leadership and/or the situation in the country.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Leavitt. While not portrayed as a walking Cluster F-Bomb, his eagerness for lighter profanity somewhat gets on Al Ghazi's nerves, and him criticising Leavitt for it becomes somewhat of a Brick Joke throughout the film
  • Steel Eardrums:
    • Averted. Mayes falls to the ground in pain when someone fires a .50 calibre machine gun over her head. She expresses worry that it blew out her eardrum, and is temporarily deafened by it.
    • Played straight in the final shootout, as no one seems to suffer any hearing damage despite sustained automatic fire and grenade explosions in confined spaces.
  • Throw-Away Guns: The team's vehicle is destroyed, so they end up grabbing whatever the dead terrorists were using. Fleury starts out with a G3, picks up a shotgun, and ends up with an AK-47.
  • Trojan Ambulance: Al Qaeda launches an attack involving a suicide bomber wearing an explosive vest; they use the ensuing chaos to drive an ambulance full of explosives to the scene and set off a much larger secondary explosion.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: When one Mook is wounded during the freeway battle, his two companions urgently rush him to a safe house for medical treatment.
  • Would Hurt a Child: On both sides. The terrorists who attack the American compound at the start of the film kill countless children as well as adults when they target a softball game, but Fleury and Mayes are also forced to shoot one of Abu Hamza's grandchildren after he shoots Colonel al-Ghazi in the neck.

Leavitt: Fleury. Tell me what you whispered to Janet in the briefing to get her to stop crying about Fran, you know, before all this, before we even got airborne. What'd you say to her?
Aunt: Tell me, what did your grandfather whisper in your ear before he died?
Leavitt: You remember?
Fleury: I told her we were gonna kill 'em all.
Grandson: "Don't fear them, my child. We are going to kill them all."

Alternative Title(s): The Kingdom