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Guy Ritchie, the director best known for his cheeky British gangster movies and unrestrainedly bare-knuckled adaptations of Sherlock Holmes lore, adopts a sober tone with The Covenant. The result is a gripping war movie that effectively emphasizes the empathetic bonds between two main characters.

The Covenant features plenty of exciting action scenes, a fantastic music score and impressive performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim. However, it does suffer from some tired action-flick histrionics.

The Story

Unlike many of the flashy, bombastic action movies he’s made, Guy Ritchie dials down his trademark flair for this film. Instead, he uses the drama to highlight a bond between two men from different cultures and the dogged pursuit of survival. These movies 123 focuses on the true story of US Army Sgt. John Kinley and his relationship with local interpreter Ahmed. It’s a gritty and powerful film with a terrific performance from Jake Gyllenhaal.

The Covenant is an old-school war movie with a lot of tension and suspense. It’s also a bit of a political statement about the US occupation in Afghanistan. And while it may be a bit heavy-handed at times, it is still effective. It is definitely worth checking out. And the music is amazing!

The Cast

Guy Ritchie is known for embracing a cheeky sense of humor in his movies, but with The Covenant, the director takes on meatier material, eschewing levity to tell a compelling story. Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim lead the cast as a US soldier and his cynical Afghan translator. 

Both actors convey their characters’ tensions through glances and body language, creating an almost phantasmagorical depiction of the wanton barbarism of war. They also manage to make us believe in the tense intimacy of their missions, where long stretches of boredom are punctuated by bursts of gunfire.

The Covenant is a rare war movie that doesn’t gloss over the horrors of conflict. It also tackles the thorny ethical question of whether the US can be trusted to honor its commitment to civilian workers.

The Direction

As a director, Ritchie wisely lets his signature style fall to the side and instead allows the story to take center stage. It’s a bold move, given the genre and subject matter, but it proves effective.

Gyllenhaal’s performance is also a highlight. He infuses John with a sense of intense honor that makes it easy to buy into his plight. However, the film’s script doesn’t know how to handle some of his biggest moments of vulnerability without veering into melodrama.

The Covenant is an action thriller with a compelling story on an important subject matter. It’s a film that will likely resonate with audiences long after it leaves theaters. It’s an important addition to the burgeoning library of American war movies. Hopefully, more filmmakers will be inspired to tackle subjects like this in the future.

The Cinematography

Some professional critics have complained that The Covenant doesn’t go hard enough on America’s reckless foreign policy that dragged us into two decades of senseless war in Afghanistan. However, the movie never stoops to preaching, instead letting its action do all the talking. Ritchie stages the battle scenes with hair-trigger timing and lots of existential machine-gun clatter, all the while staying true to war’s scary randomness.

Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim shine in this riveting drama about a US Army sergeant and his Afghan interpreter. Their bond is forged after Ahmed heroically saves Kinley’s life in an ambush. When Kinley discovers that the government hasn’t given Ahmed a visa to bring his family to America, he goes back to the war zone on a Herculean journey to repay the debt.

The Music

The Covenant is a gritty thriller that delivers an intense experience with its claustrophobic setting and kinetic action scenes. But it also features a moving story and two committed performances from its leads. Sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) leads a team searching for Taliban munitions and explosives factories in Afghanistan. He recently recruited a new interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim), who takes his job seriously and has a razor sharp intuition about people and danger.

The film, which is based on the real-life experiences of Afghan interpreters who were left behind when the US military withdrew from their countries, shines a light on a grim reality. But unfortunately, it also indulges in tired action-movie histrionics in its final act. It is a shame because Gyllenhaal gives his best performance since Nightcrawler.

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