Reviewed by: Mike Klamecki
CONTRIBUTOR—first time reviewer
War in Afghanistan
Doing the right thing, no matter how difficult
Importance of keeping solemn promises
About mercy in the Bible
What is true Christian love, according to the Bible?
Jake Gyllenhaal … Sergeant John Kinley
Dar Salim … Ahmed
Alexander Ludwig … Sgt. Declan O'Brady
Antony Starr … Eddie Parker
Jonny Lee Miller … Col. Vokes
Emily Beecham … Caroline Kinley
Rhys Yates … Tom Hancock
Jason Wong … Joshua “JJ” Jung
Bobby Schofield … Steve Kersher
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Fresco Film Services [Spain]
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|Distributor||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), a division of MGM Holdings, Inc., Owner: Amazon®|
“A bond. A pledge. A commitment.”
was interested in this war/military film that is directed by the UK’s Guy Ritchie who is known for fast dialog, quirky humor, and settings that usually have a strong European flavor. Although this movie doesn’t have all the hallmarks of a Ritchie-directed film it is competent and visually rich. I admit I was also suspicious about any kind of Hollywood distributed military film, since many are decidedly not very pro-American or positive when portraying common military personnel. Happily I walked away from “The Covenant” pleasantly surprised and inspired.
The film is seemingly separated into two parts. Part One starts with military sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is in charge of a company of soldiers during the later half of the Afghanistan War who specialize in tracking down those who use and manufacture IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Things are not going well for the company in the opening scene, where some of Kinley’s men are killed by a truck loaded with explosive boobytraps. Kinley has a thousand-yard stare which says a lot about his experiences thus far with this dangerous assignment and the paralyzing red tape of military micromanagement which interferes with his mission.
The movie picks up steam when Kinley is introduced to an observant Afghan translator named Ahmed (Dar Salim) who is assigned to Kinley’s company. Immediately there is push-back from Kinley. Yet his valuable knowledge of the Afghan culture becomes evident as they encounter different situations in which he proves his indispensability (and ornery attitude. However, Ahmed shows his true loyalty and moral fortitude when a firefight goes terribly wrong, and Ahmed willingly carries, drags, and wheels his unconscious sergeant 120 klicks (about 75 miles) to safety.
The latter half of the film is set back in America, where Kinley, safe and sound, wrestles with his conscience and wits to figure out how to get back to Afghanistan and pay back the debt he owes Ahmed. He must navigate bureaucracy, legalities and protests from his family in order to discover how to fly back and extract Ahmed and his family, now in hiding, as they are hunted by the Taliban. As you can imagine the efforts to rescue Ahmed are insanely dangerous as proved by what must be thousands upon thousands of bullets that are fired in the climatic firefight.
When I took my wife on a date to see “The Covenant,” she was one of only two women in the audience. The rest were men in singles and groups coming to see this rare Hollywood production that champions the positive portrayal of soldiers with honor, duty, and immense character. Plus I realized this isn’t really a war movie in the normal sense. It’s actually a character study on human behavior. What happens when one person does a truly amazing and heroic act for someone they barely like? More so, how does the recipient of such an act approach the idea of repayment?
The interaction between Gyllenhaal and Salim is the strength of this film. Gyllenhaal is always solid in the lead role, but Salim, with his subtle mix of poise and simmering irritability, is really the stand-out here. Neither man really like each other and even when faced with situations that bond people for life, there is still a sense of unease. It’s the realistic connection that gives this film an authentic feel. Plus there are some genuine “Go America” sections toward the end that some people will love… including all the guys that were in my screening.
Because it’s a R-rated war film expect, at least 10-15 F-words, a hand full of sh*ts, and a few g*d-d*mns. There is no nudity or sexual situations but definitely adult themes of battle, explosive violence, and bloodshed. The scenes where Ahmed is being hunted by the Taliban are extremely effective and tense. As far as war movies go, this one is not as graphic as some.
In the Gospels, Jesus says,
“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” —John 15:13
This familiar saying may seem almost trite to some, yet this film gives a good illustration of what this verse means when Ahmed truly sacrifices himself in a harrowing way to save his sergeant from being captured by the Taliban. It shows also how Kinley does the same sacrificing by forsaking his family’s comfort and seeking out Ahmed, despite all the formidable odds against him. There is a scene where they look at each other as almost to say, “This isn’t easy, but it is necessary.” Same could be said of how Jesus embodied that same sacrificial attitude for us on the cross, which was anything but easy… but it was necessary to save us from our sins and to defeat our Enemy completely.
For a follower of Christ, what is LOVE—a feeling, an emotion, or an action?
Discover the good news that Jesus Christ offers
Why is the world the way it is? If God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and loving, would He really create a world like this? (filled with oppression, suffering, death and cruelty) Answer
Discover God’s promise for all people—told beautifully and clearly from the beginning. Discover The HOPE! Watch it on Christian Answers—full-length motion picture.
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
This is a unique film experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was refreshing to experience a story that told a tale of morality and honor in spite of the terrible situations war brings. The film reminds us, before the credits roll, of the many Afghan translators who have been left behind due to the shameful and haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan in August of 2021. These Afghan translators sacrificed much for the American military. Thank goodness many groups have done much to rescue many of these men stuck in Afghanistan, but many, many more need to be extracted to safety. We would do well to say a prayer of protection for these precious souls as they await their own chance at freedom.
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
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