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'The Kingdom' Mirrors the Headlines

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'The Kingdom' Mirrors the Headlines

Movies

'The Kingdom' Mirrors the Headlines

'The Kingdom' Mirrors the Headlines

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/14793294/14793278" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jennifer Garner plays a forensics expert in The Kingdom. Frank Connor/Universal Studios hide caption

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Frank Connor/Universal Studios

Jennifer Garner plays a forensics expert in The Kingdom.

Frank Connor/Universal Studios

Set in Saudi Arabia, The Kingdom is a film about American good guys going toe to toe with followers of terrorist Abu Hamsa.

The film opens almost literally with a bang — with sounds of bombs going off in an American housing compound, killing and wounding hundreds watching a softball game.

Wait — softball? Is nothing sacred to these people?

Peter Berg's film stars Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman; there's no getting around the effectiveness of its final half hour, in which good and bad fight to the death in the most vivid hand-to-hand way. But though The Kingdom wants us to feel we're watching something relevant, it's a film that doesn't want us to think, doesn't trust us to feel on our own, and is willing to strip the narrative of nuance like it was a disease.

Despite nods to right-thinking Saudis, The Kingdom's heart is in its vivid portrait of malevolent Arabs — which means you'll feel your humanity being diminished as you watch all those evildoers getting blown away.