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THE KINGDOM

Camera Work And Explosions
To execute the highway-chase shoot-out that begins the film's intense, action-packed climax of the third act, the filmmakers shut down a local freeway near Phoenix. They found the perfect locale on a new two-mile stretch of the North Loop 202/Red Mountain Freeway that runs from Sky Harbor International Airport to the city of Mesa in the east.

Berg directed the thrilling sequence over nine days, on three successive weekends in August, just when the broiling asphalt reached scorching, triple-digit temperatures. The crew could literally fry an egg on the 148-degree blacktop. And they did.

For the exciting freeway sequence that opens the third act, Berg collaborated with veteran 2nd unit director Phil Neilson (Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven) and alumnus and effects wizard Dalton, who staged an explosive mix of car crashes, fireballs and shoot-outs that culminates in the kidnapping of one of the FBI agents.

Jason Bateman describes the film's climactic action sequence that begins as a dizzying freeway chase and ends in a claustrophobic shoot-out in a terrorist hideout. There, all the team's training would be put to the test. "Our convoy is ambushed, and my character gets kidnapped,” he relates. "Thus begins this 20-minute final sequence of nonstop action.”

Berg begins the chase with an incendiary crash as a suicide driver, hoping to assassinate the quartet, intercepts the FBI convoy and detonates a bomb. While 2nd unit director Neilson and stunt coordinator Keith Woulard choreographed a sequence that required skilled stunt drivers maneuvering several SUVs and a beat up Mercedes, the fiery explosion from the suicide blast (using remote-controlled vehicles) was designed by Dalton's seasoned special effects crew. Of the challenge of putting all of these elements together, Dalton simply states, "We had to have a four-car convoy being chased by another car that had to blow up while moving at 80, 90, 100 mph.” Easy.

Dalton, Neilson and picture car coordinator Dennis McCarthy wanted the sequence to look dramatic and realistic but were most concerned about safety. Dalton remembers, "We used a giant pneumatic ratchet like that on an aircraft carrier—an explosive cannon on a telephone pole buried in the ground, a hydraulic rig and lots of cable to pull it off. It required the joint efforts of designers, welders, mechanics, pyrotechnicians and engineers to calculate the math and the physics to make it all work.”

After much discussion and meetings with safety coordinators, Berg and cinematographer Mauro Fiore decided that this explosion should look as quick and as violent as what happens in real life. He wanted a sharp impact, one as realistic as if you were watching events unfold on national news.

It took painstaking effort to secure the safe explosions on the film. The team decided its best bet was to use the explosives C-4 and Tovax—which explode in less than one frame of film. Explains Dalton, "Explosions are all based on speed. The faster the material burns, the faster the explosion. High explosives burn at a faster rate than black powder, what we normally use in the business.”

Dalton adds, "We added a lot of fuel to this fire to help build it. We also talked to the FBI and CIA in our research; they explained that fuel-enriched explosions are common, so our fire was accurate. You can still have a large explosion with fuel and not have it be a movie explosion. We made it as large as we could with the fuel and the use of mortars. You couldn't be within 200 feet of the perimeter because of the intense heat.”

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Production wrapped, the actors playing both the core FBI team and Saudi brethren could reflect on what they had accomplished in The Kingdom. Ashraf Barhom best summarizes the thoughts and feelings of the group: "What was important is

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