At the heart of The Kingdom lies America’s complicated relationship with Saudi Arabia, rooted in our desire for oil and worsened by our presence in the region. Saudi Arabia is interesting because of the constant struggle to balance modernity spurned by massive oil profits and the traditional religious conservative beliefs. The collision of these different ideals presents problems for both the U.S. and the House of Saud.
Our involvement and presence in Saudi Arabia directly influences radical Islamic sentiment against the United States. Attacks by bin Laden and al Qaeda can be traced directly to our defense of the Saudi Kingdom and the placement of half a million U.S. troops down the road from Mecca. This is not a judgment on the First Gulf War, but an accurate example of why anti-American sentiment is fervent.
What I find most intriguing about the movie is the alternative to our current foreign policy that it presents. The response by the F.B.I. in The Kingdom presents a complete reversal of our current policy against extremist violence around the world. This is significant in that it presents a different idea of dealing with crises in such a delicate region of the world, possibly with a little more success.
I find the movie to be an optimistic but honest look at our relationship with those in the Middle East. The Kingdom attempts to address a crisis in the Middle East not with brute force, but with cooperation and trust. In the end, the movie shows us that we may think the Western and Middle Eastern cultures are radically different, but in reality, they’re more similar than we think. And, Jamie Foxx gets to be a badass for an hour and a half.