Jake Gyllenhaal takes on the Taliban in the first trailer for The Covenant

In Guy Ritchie's new thriller, a soldier must fight his way through Afghanistan to rescue the interpreter who saved his life.


Charles Bramesco


It’s uncommon but not unheard of for a director to premiere two feature films in the space of a calendar year, but in the United States, Guy Ritchie‘s going to do the likes of Hong Sang-soo one better by releasing new films in consecutive months. Operation Fortune (which was supposed to be out in 2022, but was held due to studio anxieties about running a movie featuring Ukrainian villains while the country was under siege by Russia) is going to be in American cinemas come March, and a thriller in the midst of a different war will be along shortly afterward in April.

The first trailer for The Covenant arrived online today, putting Ritchie in a more straight-faced tone than we’ve seen from his recent string of laddish gangster pictures and IP jobs. Situating a fictional tale of heroism and revenge during the US occupation of Afghanistan, he strikes a political note not so familiar to his filmography of action-comedies safely ensconced within their genre.

Jake Gyllenhaal portrays Sgt. John Kinley, a soldier in the military’s anti-Taliban effort who narrowly survives an attack from enemy combatants, his life saved by the intervention of Afghan interpreter Ahmed (Dar Salim). He carries the wounded troop across miles of desert back to safety, but upon returning home to his wife (Emily Beecham), John then learns Ahmed has not been granted safe passage to America as promised for his service. A one-man extraction mission is his only hope, and John has a debt to pay.

As is the case with much of the Ritchie oeuvre, this is guy stuff, its focus on macho themes of honor, vengeance, and duty time-honored in the war-picture tradition. But as much as he’s placed himself in his own wheelhouse, it seems Ritchie’s also veered into testy territory in terms of subject matter, opening himself up to critiques about his film’s unavoidable stance-taking on race and international relations.

But because this is a Guy Ritchie film, the real draw is the gunplay and explosions, the butch melodrama in the character work balanced out with raw testosterone in the elaborately choreographed fight sequences. In between all his Taliban-smashing, Gyllenhaal even gets to do the tough-guy thing of running away from a detonation without looking behind him, every actor’s greatest dream.

The Covenant comes to cinemas in the US on 21 April. A date for the UK has yet to be set.

Published 2 Feb 2023

Tags: Dar Salim Emily Beecham Guy Ritchie Jake Gyllenhaal

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