Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Even though The Covenant noticeably includes the filmmaker’s name in the title, this is not a typical Guy Ritchie movie. The designation was ostensibly done to differentiate itself from others with similar titles. The most well-known being a Renny Harlin-directed flick in 2006 about high school boys descended from colonial witches. Ritchie’s latest may be another macho tale for the director, but it still upends expectations. For one, it lacks the comedy brimming with witty one-liners that usually highlight his movies. This is a seriously-minded military action drama.

It’s been 18 years since Jarhead, the Persian Gulf War drama starring Jake Gyllenhaal. The actor returns to those military digs. Here he portrays U.S. Army Sergeant John Kinley needing an interpreter in Afghanistan in 2018. He selects Ahmed (Dar Salim), a local Afghan man whom John is told can be difficult. Ahmed proves to be a loyal and dedicated guide. The Afghan aide saves his life; now, various events lead to a situation where Jake must return the favor.

The Covenant is not based on any one specific account. However, it is inspired by the genuine relationships between Afghan interpreters and the U.S. Armed Forces. The War in Afghanistan began shortly after 9/11 in 2001 and would continue for 20 years. The U.S. exited the country in 2021. The applicants were promised visas to America. That’s the agreement, but thousands were left behind. The Taliban took control of the country within weeks of troops exiting. These supporters were hunted down as traitors. A title card emphasizes this in a bit of commentary in closing.

The saga leans into the features of a traditional war movie with straightforward action. As such, the chronicle is less concerned with detailed specifics of the Afghanistan War. Nevertheless, it’s thoroughly entertaining. Several tense and exciting sequences punctuate the narrative. That would have been enough, but the story’s heart is the close relationship that develops. John and Ahmed comprise one of the more engaging male friendships as of late. Gyllenhaal often affects this stoic, blank stare in his performances as an actor. That quality works well for this war-torn sergeant. Actor Dar Salim (Game of Thrones) is even more impressive as his interpreter. He, too, is a man where “actions speak louder than words.” Yet the unspoken bond that emerges as two men interact in various situations is compelling. What transpires is an emotional tribute to the human spirit.


2 Responses to “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant”

  1. This is well worth watching. I found it intense and exciting. The story was very good, and I didn’t realize till the end, that it was based on different military/interpreter situations. 3 1/2 ⭐️

    Liked by 1 person

    • This subject is somewhat reminiscent of the many collaborations between actor Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, the most successful being Lone Survivor. The Covenant was so much better.


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