"The Covenant" (2023) centers on American Sergeant John Kinley, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, stationed in Afghanistan. To facilitate communication with locals and locate bomb-making sites, the US recruits numerous translators, one of whom is Ahmed, portrayed by Dar Salim. After saving Kinley's life during a tense situation, Ahmed is denied a US visa upon the sergeant's return home, and Kinley discovers that not only has Ahmed received no assistance, but he's also become a target for the Taliban. This drives Kinley to return to Afghanistan to rescue the translator and his family.
Following an initial hour that feels fairly typical of military films, "The Covenant" transitions into a survival narrative, and subsequently, a rescue operation story. The film is at its most effective when it delves into psychological drama. For Gyllenhaal, roles like John Kinley seem effortless, but the film strives to balance his character with equal focus on Dar Salim's translator—the man who saved Kinley's life. By its conclusion, "The Covenant" transforms into a damning drama about the abandonment of hundreds of Afghans by the US—a rather pointed commentary that can be forgiven considering director Richie's transition from helming action-comedies to creating a military drama in the vein of Ridley Scott, a task he nearly accomplishes.