Guy Ritchies The Covenant 2023 Movie Scene Jake Gyllenhaal as John Kinley holding his gun while Dar Salim as Ahmed takes in the situation

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant [2023]

Is it just me or Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant is a pretentious title for a movie about the horrific war in Afghanistan? I much prefer the original title The Interpreter. However, after the change to The Covenant, they found out that there’s another movie with the same title so they just slapped Guy Ritchie’s at the beginning and Bob’s your uncle. What we have here is a rather strange blend of action, thrills, and drama all wrapped into one mildly entertaining package. We will be following John, an American soldier deployed in Afghanistan, and his Afghani interpreter and later friend, Ahmed. I don’t want to reveal too much about the plot to avoid any possible spoilers.

First of all, let’s sum this movie up: Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant is a visually alluring action movie with great production values. It also features a good cast and a solid story. I know that some of you may not like the whole war thing but on its basic level this is a human story. Even the action itself, and by that I mean the shootouts and explosions, do not feel flashy like in other movies. They do look cool though, especially towards the end. It’s one of the few movies about the war in Afghanistan that actually makes an effort to humanize the other side at times. Although that’s a much more complex issue for such a simplistic movie.

I think we can all forgive Guy Ritchie for this title thing because this is a story about how the United States fucked over a lot of people. It’s somewhat of a running theme when it comes to these wars. I wonder how history is going to look at the United States’ military actions in the future. All the CIA stuff, the coups, the bribes, and outright wars for oil, and the actual creation of the Taliban? But I digress, as I oftentimes do when the subject of war comes up. Any war and any nation waging it, just to be perfectly clear. For example, while we’re in Afghanistan we should mention The Beast of War. It follows the crew of a tank during the Soviet invasion of this poor country.

It’s been seventeen years since the United States invaded Afghanistan and things have not changed much since then. US soldiers are still dying, the Afghani people are still suffering, and the Taliban are still alive and well. In this complex situation, Master Sergeant John Kinley has learned to trust his gut. So, when he looks for a new interpreter he picks Ahmed, a rowdy Afghan with a criminal past. Neither of them knows that this is a beginning of a beautiful friendship that will be tested to its limits.

You should not think of Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant as a classic action war movie. Sure, there will be some action but the focus of this movie is on its two main characters. Jake Gyllenhaal finds himself again in a war setting, some 18 years after Jarhead, and it shows. While Iraqi-born Danish actor Dar Salim easily outshines him with his committed and believable performance. I remember him from A Hijacking, an excellent Danish slow-burning thriller. And, more recently, a solid post-apocalyptic war movie Black Crab where he starred alongside Noomi Rapace.

Apart from them, we’ve also got Jonny Lee Miller, who’s fifty now, something I have a hard time accepting. You can expect all the technical details to be top-notch, including some amazing drone shots. However, the shootouts felt a bit too heavy-handed and unrealistic. And the same goes for the movie’s inner logic. I mean, sure, things could’ve happened like that but it’s highly unlikely.

Just to make something perfectly clear, while Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant is not based on actual events, it draws inspiration from the fates of more than 50.000 Afghani interpreters who were fucked over by the American government after putting not just their lives but also the lives of their families on the line. This movie is a living and breathing indictment of those events and I salute Guy Ritchie for making it. With that being said, I think he lost his touch when it comes to those casual dialogues he was famous for.

Now they feel forced and like actors were given no direction but that could just be me. Luckily, you can only notice this in certain scenes. The main story is a bit too predictable for my taste but it offers a nice counterweight to the severity of the events. And it also dampens a bit that ominous atmosphere where things can go catastrophically wrong in mere seconds. Finally, if you’re looking for more movies about the War in Afghanistan do check out unnerving Kajaki, hilarious 12 Strong, and action-packed The Outpost

Director: Guy Ritchie

Writers: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dar Salim, Jonny Lee Miller, Emily Beecham, Alexander Ludwig

Fun Facts: The budget for the movie was $55 million.


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