Theaters: 21 April 2023
Streaming: 9 May 2023
Runtime: 123 minutes
Genre: Action – Drama – Suspense – Thriller – War
Rotten Tomatoes Critics: 82/100
Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 98/100
Metacritic Metascore: 63/100
Metacritic User Score: 6.8/10
Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Written by: Guy Ritchie – Ivan Atkinson – John Friedberg – Josh Berger
Music by: Christopher Benstead
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal – Dar Salim – Emily Beecham –Jonny Lee Miller
Film Locations: Spain
Budget: $55 million
Worldwide Box Office: $17.5 million
American Army Sergeant John Kinley, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, and his Afghan interpreter Ahmed, played by Dar Salim take on the Taliban in a war-time tale of trust earned and promises kept.
I watched this movie because Guy Ritchie’s name was all over it. Director, writer, producer, even in the title: Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant. I suppose if you direct, write, and produce the movie you can put your name in the title. His past movies: Snatch, RocknRolla, Sherlock, The Gentleman, and others have complex, Rube Goldberg plots, twists within twists with tongue planted firmly in the cheek. I loved them and I wanted more Guy Ritchie movies. I expected more of the same with The Covenant and received nothing of the sort. The Covenant is a drama with a little war, a little action, and a little suspense thrown in. If Ritchie’s name weren’t all over the film you would not know it was a Ritchie film, which I guess explains why he put his name in the title. But it is a movie worthy of Ritchie’s name and fame.
The Covenant is Christopher Benstead’s fourth movie composing the music and score for Ritchie’s movies which included: The Gentlemen, Wrath of Man, and Aladdin. This movie’s play list:
- A Horse With No Name – America
- Long Cool Woman (In a Black Dress) – The Hollies
- Truth – Alex Ebert
- Toshna Ye Abem Shoda – Mehri Maftun
- Say What You Want – White Denim
- Thunder Continues In The Aftermath – Laurie Anderson & The Kronos Quartet
- Darkness Falls – Margaret Lewis
- Farkhâr Chi Khush-u Khush Havây Dâra Janam – Rahim Takhari
Darkness Falls and Thunder Continues are perfectly placed and worth the price of admission.
I’m ambivalent towards Jake Gyllenhaal, his acting skills, not him personally. Not that he can’t act, he can but his character portrayals always seem a bit off, not what your mind is expecting, especially in his nut case roles. In End of Watch and Nightcrawler he never fully captures the essence of his character. In places he is holding back emotionally, in other scenes he has gone too far but in the wrong direction. In The Covenant he manages a more consistent character portrayal and in the last battle scene he captures the moment with body language and facial expressions. No words needed.
The script is solid and concise without any major plot holes. Having someone with military experience to parse the script would have been helpful in a few of the scenes where Sgt. Kinley and Ahmed are evading capture through the mountains and foothills of Afghanistan. When you’re running for your lives, sitting down in the open when you have trees for cover seems ill-advised.
These negatives are mostly trivial though. The script, the direction, the camera work, the acting is all done well, not exceptional but certainly above average.
In the final scenes of the Benghazi movie, 13 Hours, the protagonists note that the Arab attack against the embassy compound must have required weeks if not months of advanced planning. A subtle message but one that called out the lie of the US administration’s stance that the attack was reaction to an anti-Islam movie the day before in Egypt. In the final scene of The Covenant a statement, posted on screen, revealed that in the aftermath of the Taliban’s recapture of Afghanistan, over 300 Afghan interpreters affiliated with the U.S. military were murdered by the Taliban terrorists, with thousands more still in hiding. Again, a subtle message dealing with the lack of foresight and due diligence concerning the US administration’s Afghan withdrawal plans and execution.