- Peter Berg
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Wednesday, October 31, 2007
After a terrorist attack kills more than 100 people, including plenty of Americans, at a safe facility in Saudi Arabia, FBI agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) gathers a team and heads up there with no permission to try and find who was responsible. There is the bombs expert, Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), a computer geek, Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman), and a pathologist, Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner). They are put into the custody of local police colonel Al-Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), who doesnít make things easy for them.
Peter Berg directed from an original screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan. They both have interesting things to tell and show in this movie, and a lot of that stays with you after the movie is over. There is, on the other hand, a pretty obvious problem with the proceedings that comes from a complete lack of focus. I still donít know what the movie wanted to be or what it wanted to accomplish, which is a pity since there was potential for much more.
The opening credits sequence is brilliant, summarizing in quick and understandable mode the history between the Middle East and the United States regarding oil. Then we head to the terrorist attack which is also shocking and devastatingly real. And then there is a long stretch in which the FBI team fight with their superiors, get to Saudi Arabia and start their investigation. This portion is a bit slow and not that interesting. It is made even worse by the almost racist (yeap, I said it) way in which the movie treats the locals. This is the kind of movie in which Americans are the heroes and know-it-alls, while everyone else is either stupid or inefficient. Iím sure there are people like that in the world, but this depiction is so one-sided itís deplorable. Also, agent Fleuryís character is so arrogant that not even a couple of scenes trying to show his humanity save him from becoming unlikable.
The last third pumps up the volume and the level of violence big time. But Berg shoots it well and itís always suspenseful and well-handled. It also gives way to a killer ending which is deeply disturbing, but also sadly real.
So thereís a bit of police procedures, shoot-outs, a full-blown investigation, politics and a clear anti-war message, but itís all presented in muddled fashion. It also leaves an image of hatred towards Middle Eastern people despite one single character doing heroic stuff, for even he is treated like a subpar individual.
Jamie Foxx does his best but his character was either badly written or he was badly directed. Jennifer Garner leaves a strong impression and is believable, also serving to show what a foreign woman has to go through over there. Chris Cooper and Jason Bateman are both excellent, but underused and forgettable. Ashraf Barhom is the one who arguably delivers the strongest performance among the ensemble. Jeremy Piven, Frances Fisher, Kyle Chandler, Richard Jenkins and Danny Huston all appear in blink-and-youíll-miss-them roles.
ďI said we were going to kill them all.Ē
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