A number of people tend to think Guy Ritchie primarily makes action comedies. However, if you look at the famed director’s filmography, it’s clear that he has a wider range of genres that includes outliers such as Aladdin, and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. So it shouldn’t be that shocking to discover Ritchie’s latest film, The Covenant, is not a comedy at all. It focuses on the very real issue of what happened to interpreters the US military used while in Afghanistan.
In The Covenant, Sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) is tasked with finding IED production facilities in Afghanistan. To help with this task, his unit is assigned an interpreter who translates and interprets. Sergeant Kinley’s new interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim), is highly skilled in his trade, but when things go south on a mission, it’s Ahmed who must risk life and limb to get Sergeant Kinley to safety.
While The Covenant is not based on a true story, it is an important film because it shines a light on some of the terrible things that happened when the US pulled out of Afghanistan. They left interpreters behind after promising them US Visas. Likewise, Ahmed is essentially left behind. As Sergeant Kinley goes home and recovers, Ahmed is forced into hiding, along with his wife and child, and Kinley deals with that outcome in a variety of ways.
The cast of The Covenant is phenomenal. Gyllenhaal and Salim are captivating, and will have audiences fully engrossed in the action and the drama of the film. Ritchie’s directorial style puts the audience directly in Kinley’s unit, and leaves them on the edge of their seats for a full two hours. Even when Kinley gets back to the US and deals with the fallout, the audience feels everything he’s going through.
The Covenant does a lot of things really well, but one area where it’s a bit lacking is in its pacing. There’s plenty of nonstop action throughout the first half of the film, but then the build up to Ahmed’s predicament begins, and it feels as though it almost never ends. The build up probably only lasts around 30 minutes, but it feels like a solid hour, if not longer.
The film remains intense throughout the build up, but it just never seems to stop. By the time the audience gets through that portion of the movie, it feels as though things should be wrapping up. Instead, you’re only a little bit beyond the halfway point of the film. By the time the credits started to roll, it felt like the movie was in the three hour range, but in reality it was just shy of two hours at that point.
There’s a lot to take in while watching Guy Ritchie’s the Covenant. It deals with a very important, real life issue, and it’s an intense experience to watch. There are more than a few parallels to American Sniper, another critically acclaimed war film about real-life events. The Covenant is absolutely something that people should go out and see in theaters, but it’s also a heavy film that feels much longer than it is.
About Guy Ritchie’s the Covenant
Synopsis: During the war in Afghanistan, a local interpreter risks his own life to carry an injured sergeant across miles of grueling terrain.
Director: Guy Ritchie
Writers: Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies, Guy Ritchie
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dar Salim, Sean Sager
Runtime: 2 Hours, 3 Minutes
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.