Here's why I liked The Kingdom: It didn't pretend to be a serious post 9/11 "issues" movie. I mean, maybe it wanted to be, but if that's the case, it failed miserably. Instead, it was a pretty good thriller with likable characters that kept me interested up to the end credits. No mean feat, let me tell you, 'cos I fuckin' hate Jamie Foxx.
Not hate. I just... I don't know; I don't get the appeal, maybe. He's Denzel-lite. And I don't much care for Denzel, either. But that's another post.
Meanwhile, let me tell you how great Jason Bateman is.
I was all set to not watch The Kingdom. The Jamie Foxx thing, the whole Middle East thing. Let me work it out for you mathematically.
Jamie Foxx + Lots of Shooting = Yawn
But then Nikki told me Bateman was in it... and that he had to improvise all his lines. Now you've got my attention.
Bateman's always been cool in my book, and this was a bit of a departure for him. I mean, when's the last time you saw him in an action movie, right? So that's a plus, but the improv thing... this I had to see. At the same time, I found it to be a huge distraction. Every time he opened his mouth, I was analyzing what he'd said, usually a quip of some kind, instead of listening to how it fit in with the rest of the dialog and the scene in general, and it really drew me out of the movie.
And then I find out it wasn't true.
Not that Bateman didn't improvise his lines: He did. But so did pretty much everyone else. In an interview with About.com, Jennifer Garner talks about improvising; Jamie Foxx sure as hell did some improvising. It's done all the time, playing fast and loose with the script, but here I was under the impression that it was only Bateman, and I was on the lookout for it.
It didn't ruin the movie for me, but it definitely made it a different experience.
I don't really know what to say about this one. I found myself not bored, which I guess is a good thing. I was happy enough with it once it was over, but down the track a bit, I don't think it was really that memorable. I think about a film like Babel, and much as I really didn't like that film, it tended to stay with me more than something like this. Only because, in hindsight, it was a bit like Die Hard Goes to War. Jamie Foxx was very much our hero, and it really was just a matter of time before he saved the day. Of course, no-one wins in war, so his success is questionable, but I do think we were meant to leave this film with something like relief, but it's hard to be satisfied when the war continues.
Like Steve, I really wanted to watch the film for Jason Bateman. But he wasn't all that memorable either. That could have something do with Peter Berg's whippy, CNN-style direction, that was so shaky and stuttery that the camera rarely stayed on an actor longer than half a second for them to really be enjoyable or memorable.
Let me take this opportunity, though, to say just how much Jennifer Garner is growing on me. I thought she was awful in Alias, and carried that into every one of her films I watched, notably Daredevil. But after really liking Catch and Release, enjoying her in Juno, and secretly bawling my head off during 14 Going on 30, (they played "Vienna" -- what was I supposed to do?), I have to admit my first impressions might have been off-track. One more good movie, one more good performance and she'll hit my Love List for sure.