By Mark Fields

International news headlines have bemoaned the fact that the U.S.’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan stranded many local interpreters in country, facing reprisals from the Taliban for their cooperation with the American troops. Inspired by the betrayal of these interpreters (who were promised visas and new lives in the U.S. before being abandoned), Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant is a fictional story that serves as a kind of wish fulfillment of another, more honorable response. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Sergeant John Kinley, a stalwart, conscientious unit commander who develops a close bond with his no-nonsense interpreter, Ahmed (Dar Salim). After Ahmed demonstrates extraordinary self-sacrifice, John tries to return the favor and rescue Ahmed and his family out of Afghanistan despite the personal risks and in defiance of military bureaucracy. Director Guy Ritchie, best known for his high-octane action extravaganzas such as Snatch and Sherlock Holmes, seems an unlikely choice for this project, but he brings dramatic tension and taut pacing to the drama. There’s more than a whiff of improbability about the major plot points in The Covenant, but that doesn’t detract from the compelling human story at its center.

Mark Fields
Mark Fields has reviewed movies for Out & About since October 2008. In addition, he has written O&A profiles of documentarian Harry Shearer and actress Aubrey Plaza. Over the years, Mark also has written on film for several publications in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and his home state of Indiana, where he also served as on-air movie critic for Indianapolis’s public radio station. Mark was an adjunct instructor of film history at Rowan University from 1998 to 2018. A career arts administrator, he retired in fall 2021 after 16 years as an executive at Wilmington’s Grand Opera House. Mark now leads bike tours part-time and is working on a screenplay. He lives in Trolley Square with his partner Wendy. Mark spent the fastest 22 minutes of his life as an unsuccessful contestant on Jeopardy…sadly, there were no movie questions.