“Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant” is based on the true story of US Army Sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Afghan interpreter Ahmed (Dar Salim) in 2018 during the Afghanistan War. After being ambushed, Ahmed risks his life to save Kinley, who is wounded and unable to walk, by transporting him by a makeshift cot through rugged mountains. While viewing the film, Ritchie captures not only a heroic portrait of devotion, we see up close and personal the frustrations of fighting a war in those forbidding mountains. Historically Guy Ritchie films going back 25 years, have their own genre; they contain stylized and flamboyant silly action and violence. “The Covenant” is his first war film; it’s a very series film with realistic motion. As a Guy Ritchie fan, I’ve seen all his films—I believe this is his best yet.
As Kinley, now back in the US, recovers from his injuries, flashbacks haunt him. He begins to realize that Ahmed risked his life to save him. When he learns that he and his family were not given safe passage to America as promised. He decides to repay his debt by returning to the war zone to save them before the Taliban capture them.
The chemistry between the two characters and the realistic war scenes makes the film so great. After a horrific ambush in which Kinley and his men are overwhelmed by hordes of seriously armed Taliban gunmen who just keep on coming, only Ahmed and a badly wounded Kinley survive. This is when “The Covenant” becomes a harrowing, nerve-wracking survival adventure, with Ahmed utilizing a variety of strategies and testing the extreme limits of his endurance as he crisscrosses the challenging terrain and back roads in a superhuman effort to return to the Bagram Air Base, all while the Taliban is hunting them down. Ahmed makes one narrow escape after another, sometimes with the help of locals who loathe the Taliban.
We see the stacked odds of survival and are shocked when Kinley decides to leave his California home and family to return to the dreadful situation. And return, he does. The reunion brought tears to my eyes; again, Ritchie’s seasoned filmmaking career has created an excellent film of friendship, devotion, and the realistic horrors of war.
Sarah Knight Adamson© May 7, 2023