A Pledge Must Be Honoured! Review Of Guy Ritchie's The Covenant (2023)
There are few people I consider auteurs in the film industry and one of them is Guy Ritchie. There is an artistic style and sophistication to his movies. Without reading the synopsis, if I watch his film, I'll immediately know he's the brain behind it.
A few months back, he graced our screens with the spy action comedy, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (2023) and viewers were impressed. Then I saw the poster of his new release, Guy Ritchie's The Covenant (2023) and wasn't sure what to make of it for two reasons. I'm not into war films and I can't seem to take a shine to Jake Gyllenhaal as an actor. My friend remarked, "But it's Guy Ritchie! He never goes wrong with his films!" And she was right.
Guy Ritchie's The Covenant is a pensive and well-crafted war thriller that focuses on the Afghanistan war and the fate of interpreters after the U.S. withdrawal from the war-torn country in 2021.
The opening scene reveals American Sergeant, John Kinley (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), and his team searching cars for explosives and weapons of mass destruction at a roadside checkpoint. They have a translator with them named Jack Jack. An argument with a truck driver who is reluctant to allow them to search his vehicle leads to an explosion that kills the Afghan translator and some soldiers.
Kinley is later introduced to a new Afghan translator, Ahmed (played by Dar Salim). He's a mechanic, a man of few words and quite blunt. Kinley discovers later that Ahmed has a history with the Talibans because they killed his son. It is implied that in exchange for working for the Americans, Ahmed and his family would get visas.
When Kinley and his men receive intel about a Taliban IED factory, they embark on a three-hour journey to the location to destroy it. In the chaos of gunfire and explosions, Kinley loses all his men except for Ahmed. The Taliban leader orders his men to bring Kinley and Ahmed to him alive. The two men run for their lives for days through the dusty and mountainous deserts. Will they make it out alive? You'll have to find out by watching this gripping thriller!
I have always been impressed with the way Guy Ritchie's mind works which is evident in his classy films. As a writer, director and producer, he infuses brilliance and suspense into his films that grip viewers' attention and keeps them on the edge of their seats.
The plot of this war thriller is brilliant and compelling. I understand it is inspired by the tragic stories of Afghan interpreters who were promised visas for working with the United States military for twenty years and then left to face the wrath of the Taliban after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021.
The scenes are evenly paced and the action sequences are great. The first half of the film focuses on Kinley and his men then slowly turns towards Ahmed and Jake. The gunfights are touching as viewers watch the reality of the US-Afghanistan war on their screens and some of the horrors the soldiers faced.
Guy Ritchie's The Covenant gives a well-executed and stark dose of war reality, including the physical and emotional pains that follow. Ritchie humanises what soldiers and interpreters go through. He imbues the film with thrilling heroism but rips our hearts with despair and tears.
I love that he focuses on the themes of brotherhood and commitment to an agreement. He tells the tale of how a powerful country like America makes promises in exchange for help only to cut its allies loose when they are of no use anymore. I think this is a story worth telling and a film worth watching.
The cast's performance is outstanding, especially the collaboration of Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim. Their chemistry is superb. I'm impressed with Dar Salim more because his acting is excellent. His character, Ahmed, is a man of few words with a razor-sharp ability to read people and situations. He didn't just translate but also 'interpreted' thereby saving their lives. Seeing the way he outwitted the Taliban when Kinley was hurt kept me on the edge of my seat.
My favourite scene is the ending where guns are blazing, tension is high and it seems there is no way out, only for help to arrive in a stunning and action-packed way!
Overall, I'll say Ritchie did great with this film. He's like the King Midas of the film industry and any genre he touches becomes gold. This is a fine film and I recommend that everyone should watch it. I'll give it 4.5 stars out of 5.
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Other images are screenshots from the movie