I had very high expectations of The Kingdom, I thought the trailers were excellent and I was expecting a highly polished, cerebral action thriller. Firstly, the 'cerebral' part of that statement just wasn't there. I mean, apart from literally the last moments of the film, there is really no clear message to be found. I'm not saying that all films should have a message, but I feel like The Kingdom was marketed in a slightly misleading way, which admittedly is nothing new with regards to Hollywood.
I actually liked the movie a lot and it had plenty of good points which I will come to in a second. But firstly there were a couple of negatives...
The movie itself is a slightly less stylish and cool version of a Michael Mann film. I spent most of the two hour duration wishing he had directed it, and there are a few moments where I felt Peter Berg was basically just doing his best to imitate Mann's visual style, and frankly it just didn't work.
My main problem with The Kingdom is that it had a major identity crisis; it didn't have enough action to be considered an all out, balls-to-the-wall action flick, and it just wasn't smart enough to be a message movie. I also felt like the writers were trying too hard to inject humour into the dialogue at inappropriate moments and that Jason Bateman served no purpose other than to deliver these clumsy lines.
Now the good points; Jamie Foxx is as charismatic as they come and he anchors the movie exceptionally well with a knowing and capable performance. Chris Cooper, who happens to be a brilliant actor, is underutilised. Jennifer Garner plays to type as the chick with a gun. Bateman, as stated above, is a rather pointless addition to the cast.
Most of the film is made up of cat and mouse games with generic terrorists and a limited exploration of cultural barriers and differences which is played for laughs a little too often and is more interesting than informative. The dialogue itself is very smart in places (there is a sublime moment at the end of the movie that's well worth the admission price alone) but the action is a little too long in coming, however when it does finally arrive it's brilliantly done with a spectacular gun battle and car chase combo with a hint of Jihadi beheading thrown in for good measure.
Overall, The Kingdom is greater than the some of its parts. It's a visceral and exciting experience but there is a lot of squandered potential simmering beneath the surface of this polished and pleasing popcorn movie.