Guy Ritchie's The Covenant - In The Heat of Battle
Updated: May 26
Watched on Amazon Prime Video
"The deal was that we offered his family sanctuary. Then we tied a noose around his neck, and we kicked the stool out from under him."
Guy Ritchie's "The Covenant" (2023) is a war movie that touches upon themes of courage, friendship, and self-sacrifice. The film is not based on a true story, but, as Ahmed (Salim, the film's protagonist) noted in the movie, it is a tapestry of the countless true stories of American soldiers and local Afghan allies who fought side-by-side in the war.
The film starts with a bang, dropping us into the chaos of an intense battlefield. Ritchie's mastery of dynamic, engaging action sequences shines in these moments, effectively setting a gritty, tense tone for the movie. He excellently depicts the camaraderie and risks taken by soldiers and interpreters alike in the Afghanistan war zone, with a special focus on Salim's heroic journey.
However, "The Covenant" hits a significant slump in its middle section. What seemed to be an attempt at character development and plot exposition felt rather like a drag, slowing the pace considerably. The conversations lacked depth, and the plot seemed to meander, testing the viewer's patience. It's during this phase that Ritchie's typical frenetic storytelling style, which worked wonders in movies like "Snatch" and "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels," is sorely missed. The authenticity of the depiction of Afghanistan and its people, while well-intentioned, also seemed lacking at times, falling into stereotypical representation.
Yet, the film manages to pick up the pace towards the end. The final action sequence is expertly executed, showcasing Ritchie's trademark style, making up for the lull in the second act to an extent. It's here that Salim's relentless struggle and the soldiers' sacrifices come to a head, giving the audience an emotional, albeit expected, climax.
The performances are commendable, especially the lead actor who plays Salim. His portrayal of a local interpreter turned unlikely hero is heartfelt and convincing.
In conclusion, "The Covenant" is an ambitious project by Guy Ritchie, weaving the harsh realities of war with personal stories of bravery and sacrifice. Despite its flaws and the sagging middle section, the film delivers in parts, especially with its intense action sequences and moments of poignant drama. Worth watching for the initial and concluding action, but be prepared for a slower, less engaging middle section.