Summation: Action packed movie with religious and political undertones
Rating: 3 out of 5
Being set in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, one would expect that there would be a clash of cultures as well as religion. Being the heart of Wahhabi territory, one can imagine that religious fanaticism would be a factor and so it proves to be.
A cabal, a terrorist cell, attacks an American compound where foreigners are forced to live in order to avoid contact with Saudis as much as possible. During the middle of a baseball game, they strike, killing 100 American citizens.
The Saudis are intent on identifying the perpetrators for the simple reason that they are fellow Saudis. As the Wahhabi’s despise the West and believe that by even being present on holy Muslim soil, is heresy, they target both the Americans & the Saudis for allowing the American in Saudi Arabia.
The FBI under FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) negotiates a five-day trip to Saudi Arabia to investigate the crime first hand. Joining him are three others: a bomb expert (Cooper), a forensics guru (Garner), and a third person (Bateman).
On arrival in Saudi Arabia, they are given a Saudi Colonel, Faris Al-Ghazi [Ashraf Barhom] as their minder. Through professional jealously, he is under orders to hinder the Americans in every way possible much to Fleury’s chagrin. As the Saudi’s search through the scene of an explosion, they destroy more evidence than they uncover. They are patently clueless and out of their depth. Fleury offers them assistance but it is refused. Fleury is stymied at every turn.
Fleury then adopts a different tack by requesting permission to investigate points that the Saudis deem not to be so irrelevant that they are contended that the Americans can investigate it. The one is a building from which Fleury believes, a video of the carnage was filmed.
When Fleury gets a Saudi prince’s permission to assist the investigation because of the Saudi’s lack of progress is an embarrassment to their government, this provides Fleury the entre to operate in conjunction with Al-Ghazi. A genuine respect develops between the two men.
Most scenes reek of realism especially the one where an American is captured by the terrorists. The look of sheer horror in his eyes as he struggles to release himself is superb. The car chase also has the hallmarks of extreme realism.
I did find a number of aspects unrealistic: the action scenes were undertaken by forensic experts and not the Marines or the Navy Seals, yet they would easily have surpassed both in their military prowess and adeptness with the weapons. Having been in the Army, I am conscious of the limits of the ammunition but yet all the Americans seemly fired hundreds of shots without reloading.
Furthermore it is highly unlikely that Jennifer Garner’s character would have been able to dress the way that she did. Briefly she was forced to wear a scarf on her head but then seemly Muslim dress code no longer applied.
This is an action movie with few pretensions of dealing of issues of religion and culture in any serious way. These differences are dealt with perfunctorily but not in any substantial way, so do not expect any reasoned debate or consideration of them but it does provide a veneer of thought provoking situations.
For an action movie, the start was on the glacial side and from my perspective could have been eliminated without any impact on the character portrayal or issues involved.
Certainly this is an above average movie which deserves to be watched but certain incongruities made it not ring true in all aspects for me.