Film Review: “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant”


  • Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dar Salim
  • Directed by Guy Ritchie
  • Rating: R
  • Running time: 2 hrs 3 mins
  • Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Rare is the actor or actress who delivers a solid performance time after time without nary a failure. Morgan Freeman. Meryl Streep. Robert Redford. Angela Bassett. All are prime examples of this, but there is one who is not necessarily on the tips of everyone’s tongue – Jake Gyllenhaal. Once again, this time in a Guy Ritchie-helmed film, Gyllenhaal provides steady acting to a role that requires a lot physically and emotionally. It also doesn’t hurt he is supported by the sheer brilliance of Dar Salim (“Game of Thrones” first season) in a work that is one of the first must-sees of the year.
Co-written and directed by Ritchie (“Wrath of Man,” “The Gentleman”), “Covenant” is set during the later years of America’s involvement in the Afghanistan War. U.S. Army Sgt. John Kinley (Gyllenhaal, “Spider-Man: Far from Home”) leads a squad of American and Afghan troops who go out on seek and destroy missions against the Taliban. However, they are often frustrated by bad intelligence and sometimes untrustworthy Afghans secretly loyal to the Taliban.
Needing a new interpreter, Sgt. Kinley brings onboard Ahmed (Dar Salim, “Game of Thrones” first season), an Afghan needing money to support his family. After an episode during which Ahmed disregards orders, Sgt. Kinley also learns that his knowledgeable interpreter is motivated by revenge. After an ambush in a remote mountainous area, Sgt. Kinley is left seriously wounded and it is up to Ahmed to drag him to safety.
Flash forward to when America withdraws its troops from Afghanistan and Ahmed is left behind with no way out. Now a civilian, it is up to Sgt. Kinley to return the favor and thus fulfill his covenant.
Gyllenhaal delivers an entertaining, multi-faceted performance. It requires grit, physicality, and an ability to convincingly bring to life a wide variety of emotions. Gyllenhaal accomplishes this on all levels. However, he is in some ways outshined by Salim who is a force of nature. His sheer presence dominates the screen with a tangible gravitas as his character becomes a sort of folk hero.
Ritchie’s films all have a similar vibe to them, as in the two films previously mentioned that he has directed. This one, though, requires him to dig a little deeper and depict this gripping war story as realistic as possible. Ritchie is successful on every level with yet another film to add to a repertoire that will no doubt be showcased during some career achievement ceremony.
Overall, “Covenant” is a fantastic war film and should not be missed.
“Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” receives three-and-a-half stars out of five.

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