The unit on patrol.

The Covenant: Promises made and promises broken

Riley Riley

The Covenant is a film about promises, more than anything else.

Promises made by the Unites States Government to interpreters who helped its soldiers during conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And in this case a single promise or ‘covenant’ made by one man to another after he rescues him from the clutches of the Taliban and certain death.

The 2023 Guy Ritchie film was to have been originally called The Interpreter, but it was later changed to The Covenant and later still to Guy Richie’s The Covenant to distinguish it from another film of the same name.

It tells the story of Master Sergeant John Kinley and his Afghan interpreter, Ahmed, who once worked with the Taliban.

Co-written, produced and directed by Guy Ritchie, it stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim as the two main characters.

The action gets underway as Kinley and his unit are ambushed by the Taliban during a routine vehicle inspection at Lashkargah.

His interpreter is killed in the attack and he needs to find a replacement.

Kinley is introduced to Ahmed Abdullah, who he learns once worked with the Taliban, but defected after they murdered his son.

He is cautious but accepts Ahmed as a replacement, but the two soon clash when Ahmed tries to offer him advice.

Kinley tells him in no uncertain terms that his job is to translate, nothing more.

“Actually, I’m here to interpret,” Ahmed responds (in a clear double-entendre).

After Ahmed saves the team from being ambushed, he earns Kinley’s new found respect.

Their mission is to seek out Taliban munitions caches and IEDs, but it is difficult to get the locals to talk for fear of reprisals.

During a raid about 100km north of Bagram Air Base, the unit is attacked by Taliban reinforcements, who kill everyone except for Kinley and Ahmed.

The pair manage to escape on foot, killing several Taliban fighters in the process.

While attempting to return to the safety of the airbase, they are once again ambushed and this time Kinley is wounded and captured.

However, Ahmed manages to free him and they begin a cross-country trek, playing cat and mouse with the Taliban whose patrols are hunting for them.

As they near Bagram several days later Ahmed and Kinley once again come under fire, but cavalry arrives in the nick of time to save them.

Fast forward three weeks and we find Kinley recuperating at home in California.

Upon learning that Ahmed and his family have been forced into hiding because of the role he played in his escape, he attempts to secure US visas for them — but gets nowhere.

So Kinley enlists the assistance of his former boss, Lieutenant Colonel Vokes and returns to Afghanistan to find Ahmed and his family himself.

The Covenant is a cracker of a film, a serious film even and Richie’s best offering in a long time.

It’s a bit of a slow burn, but the tension ratchets up as the relentless Taliban keep coming in wave after wave and at one stage the pair look like they will surely be overwhelmed.

If not for Ahmed’s unexpected and tireless support, it’s clear that Kinley would be dead already.

The film serves to highlight the plight of hundreds of interpreters who were promised relocation to the US in return for their help.

Fifty thousand of them were employed over two decades in Afghanistan, many killed before the US could make good on its promise.

The film reveals that after the US left Afghanistan and the Taliban returned, more than 300 Afghan interpreters who worked for the US military were murdered, with thousands more still in hiding.

To stay means torture and certain death. There is no middle ground.

Ritchie, once married to Madonna, with whom he has two sons, achieved fame for movies such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) was followed by Snatch (2000).

Interestingly, Gyllenhaal is quoted as saying: “The truth is most of the films that make a lot of money no one remembers, and I’m not interested in making films that no one remembers.”

We reckon this one might stand the test of time.

You can catch Guy Richie’s The Covenant on Prime Video.


CHECKOUT: Nope: That cloud hasn’t moved?

CHECKOUT: The Book of Eli: Whatever happened to the Hughes brothers?


Time out score

Final thoughts . . .

First class action with a message.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *