Official Tagline: A team of U.S. government agents is sent to investigate the bombing of an American facility in the Middle East.

Written by: Mathew Carnahan
Directed by: Peter Berg

Starring: Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Ashraf Barhoum, Hrach Titizian and Jason Bateman

With tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia at an all-time high, I thought I would discuss the film The Kingdom which gives a little insight to the relationship between the two countries. This is a movie that I use as an example film in my Introduction to Screenwriting courses. One of the strong elements of The Kingdom is how it gives the audience background information quickly, in an entertaining and interesting way. The Kingdom is also a good example of how to hook the audience within the first few minutes of the film. If you need more convincing to watch The Kingdom; it is a good, thought provoking action movie.

The title of the film refers to the “The Kingdom” of Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom serves as a backdrop for the story of a FBI investigative team, Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) and his elite team (Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman). They secretly travel to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to investigate the terrorist attack of a Western housing compound that resulted in many American civilians and FBI agents on assignment in Riyadh being killed.

Fleury is only given five days to investigate to crime with no support from the State Department. To make matter worst; Fleury and his team come face to face with Saudi authorities suspicious and unwelcoming of American interlopers into what they consider a local matter. The team’s only allies are Saudi Colonel Al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhoum star of Tyrant) and Sgt. Fadi (Hrach Titizian) who want to catch the terrorist as much as the American team. Al-Ghazi is personally connected with the terrorist attack and is driven to see those that committed the crime be brought to justice no matter what.

Still it is the American FBI agents that we follow and through their eyes we witness the suspiciousness and mistrust of Americans by the Saudi people. The FBI team members are literally strangers in a strange land.James Fox brings an almost slick sheen to Agent Fleury, who at times must be a blunt instrument and a grifting seducer of the rich and powerful, who put road blocks at every step of the investigation.

Janet Mayes [Jennifer Gardner] is the heart of the FBI team and the heart of this film, showing the emotional toll of the investigation. Chris Cooper is his good old boy, steady self as agent Grant Sykes ; lending the sage voice of reason to the proceeding. But Jason Bateman as agent Adam Leavitt, shows firsthand the dangers of a American falling into the hands of foreign terrorist with little hope of rescue.

The film is directed by Peter Berg and written by Mathew Carnahan. I think Berg did a very good job of balancing the action scenes with the interaction of the actors. Caranahan’s script attempted to put a balance between American and Arab viewpoints. In fact, two of the most sympatric characters are the Saudi Colonel Al-Ghazi and Sgt. Fadi who bring a human face to the Arabs who balance loyalty to Islam and their homeland, with the pursuit for justice.

The film is violent, but not gratuitously so. At its heart this is an action movie, but a thought provoking action movie. You come away thinking about the politics of our nation and those countries who may or may not truly be our friends.

Try to see The Kingdom, an action film that you just might learn something from.

Screen Writer Ink
Fade In Is Just The Beginning

Movie Review: The Kingdom
80%Overall Score

About The Author


John Morgan Risner John has been featured in several magazines and television programs including Great Day Live and ABC News with Diane Sawyer, talking about screenwriting, movie making, the James Bond films and the Oscar nominations. John is also a film historian, specializing in horror films and is an expert on the James Bond films and novels. John Morgan Risner is available for speaking engagements and seminars for writing groups,workshops and retreats, comic and movie conventions, and of course screenwriting and film festivals. Please send an email to for rates and scheduling. In his role as senior story analysis and head writer at Screen Writer Ink, John has over ten years as a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analysis, Story Consultant , Writing Mentor and is a Screenwriting Instructor at two major universities. This experience combined with his Degree in Screenwriting and Film Production, plus experience as a producer, director and actor, makes John uniquely qualified to analyze stories and screenplays to provide guidance to writers and producers looking to create high quality marketable novels and screenplays . The expert staff at Screen Writer Ink not only provides writing and mentor services to writers, but also manuscript analysis and editing and full screenplay analysis and coverage. Screen Writer Ink is available to producers and production companies for rewriting assignments, script doctoring and complete screenplay creation. Specialties: Screenwriting, Producing,Ghost Writing, Directing, Story Creation , Acting, Writing, Film Production, Speaker, Instruction and Analysis. Please send an email to for further information

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