The Covenant

Bonded heroes

Note: The word “covenant” is so overused that this one is officially titled “Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant.” Another reason for the addendum is that this doesn’t seem at all like a film by the guy who made Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. It’s a skillfully made, sober military thriller about heroism, sacrifice and honor. The small-scale battle scenes are terrifying and authentic, and the emotions real.

Wounded Army sergeant John Kinley is rescued by his Afghan interpreter Ahmad after their unit is all but wiped out in a firefight with the Taliban. Ahmed literally carries the drugged and comatose man to safety through a hundred miles of Taliban-infested desert.

When Kinley learns weeks later when he wakes up in California that Ahmed and his family have not been granted safe passage to America as promised, he goes to battle, first with Defense Department red tape, and then he returns to Afghanistan to personally return the massive favor he owes.

Jake Gyllenhaal puts in his usual polished, believable performance, but the movie belongs to Iraqi actor Dar Salim as Ahmed.

This cements Ritchie’s return to form after straying into such bombs as Swept Away. The film is also a step toward closure for the failed war that should never have happened. But it’s a drop in the bucket. A constant dark presence is of course the thousands of Afghans who helped the U.S. with its “War on Terror” who remain there under constant threat. (123 min)