Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Jamie Foxx returns in his first movie since Dreamgirls, the slightly political but more violent Hollywood thriller, The Kingdom. There were so many bombs, grenades and flamethrowers, I thought someone was going to jump in the theatre and shoot the person next to me just for visual effect!


    After suicide bombers strike an American housing compound in Saudi Arabia a team of FBI agents, which include Jamie “Keep ‘Em Laughing” Foxx and Jennifer Garner, trek to the desert to solve the crime (well, actually it’s just on location in Arizona with a few scenes filmed in Abu Dhabi!). Saudi Arabia has a complex history of colonization, war and oil that dates back nearly eight years. In the beginning, The Kingdom feels like a thought-provoking political thriller that could give Syriana a hot battle. However, within thirty minutes the producer, Michael Mann (Ali, Miami Vice…yeah, exactly!) disintegrates The Kingdom to the film version of The House of the Dead, with Jamie and the crew blowing up the wicked Arabs at every turn. Forget the politics—we want to show these Arab bastards who rules, especially in the movies!

    The Kingdom is unruly with the violence: wild fight scenes, car chases and horror movie-ish blood. Still, the ornamental violence isn’t enough to save a lackluster plot…evil brown people attack and the FBI hunts down the bad guys, but instead of gunning down brown folks on American soil we just destroy them on their homeland—Americans never lose! They should’ve just had Captain America play Jamie Foxx’s role.

    Between the blood and guts, the film also tackles gender constructs (those misogynist Arabs!), racial/ethnic jokes that comes with every Jaime Foxx character and les we forget branding a fear of people from the Middle East for every American watching. When a suicide bomber cried, "Glory to be Allah!" and blew up an entire soccer field, a black woman next to me gasped, placed her hand to her bosoms, threw her head back and cried, “Those people scare me!” I said, “Lawd, she sounds like a white woman during Jim Crow watching Birth of a Nation!”

    Is the movie enjoyable? Yes! The teenage boy in me loved every millisecond of the murderousness. Meaning, after you dumb yourself down The Kingdom is one of the better action flicks of 2007. It’s fast-paced, high-octane, not one long monologue in the entire 110 minutes and leaves the audience proud to be an American. Hell, I’m sure they’ll even get some new Army recruits out of this movie!

    No complaints with the acting, considering the roles weren’t three-dimensional and there was no emotional investment in any of the American characters. Still, Foxx was believable and the usually irritating and waspy Garner was fun to watch as the butch, but yet sassy agent. On the other hand, the scenes with the Arab actors were powerful and memorable. Ashraf Barhom was riveting as Colonel Faris Al Ghazi and some of the other Arab actors seemed to have been pulled straight from Riyadh.

    Toward the end, The Kingdom attempts to go back to the social commentary that fit perfectly in the beginning by juxtaposing the children of America with the children of Saudi Arabia. We both want to murder, we both hate and the last line in the movie is “Kill them all.” It was an interesting, morbid moment that would have felt more impactful if this message, or theme, was injected throughout the entire film.

    The Kingdom is not a bad movie, but they definitely missed the target when the morphed a political thriller into a bang-bang flick. Maybe President Bush would’ve been a better director…

    3.5/5 stars

    The Kingdom is in theatres today.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 3 comments

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