Movie Review: Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant (Ritchie, 2023)

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Movie: Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant

Production Companies: STXfilms, Toff Guy Films

Director: Guy Ritchie

Producers: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, John Friedberg, Josh Berger

Scriptwriters: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies

Main Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Dar Salim, Antony Starr, Alexander Ludwig, Sean Stager, Jonny Lee Miller

Release Date: April 21st 2023

Running Time: 123 minutes

Certificate: 15


Well, damn this came out of nowhere. In a week which is dominated rightfully by Across the Spider Verse, Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant’s quiet Amazon Prime release was a masterstroke. And yes it does continue his upward trend after the Gentlemen, Wrath of Man and Operation Fortune. Genuinely, this could be a sleeper shout for one of his best films which is really saying something. After this, you’ll probably be asking why hasn’t Guy Ritchie directed more war films? Also, SPOILER warning in effect. Anyway, let’s get into my review of the film now.


Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant follows a US Master Sergeant in the Afghanistan War, John Kinley (Gyllenhaal), as he is touring the country to find explosive factories operated by the Taliban. However, after a Taliban ambush Kinley and his interpreter Ahmed (Salim) are in a race for survival against the Taliban. However, all of this looks to be in vain when Kinley discovers Ahmed won’t be able to enter the country with his family because of a lack of visas. So against every sensible idea, Kinley re-enters the battle for survival to get Ahmed and his family out even if it means he loses his own life. Now with the synopsis out of the way, let’s get into the analysis portion of the review.


Cinematography in Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant

To begin my analysis of Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, I’m going to discuss the film’s cinematography. Firstly, credit to the production team for making Alicante feel like the hills and mountains of Afghanistan. Now, with that out of the way, the cinematography is great for two major reasons. The first reason is how it makes John and Ahmed feel so small. Take any of the shots when Ahmed is dragging John through the mountains. By using birdseye shots as well as high ankle shots, it really illustrates how small and insignificant the pair seem in comparison to the vast mountains. Also, it’s a nice juxtaposition of how important the pair are to the Taliban yet insignificant to their surroundings.

Anyway, the second major reason is how it acts like the Taliban’s eyes. By this, I mean when John and Ahmed are running through the hills the camera becomes a lot more mobile. This gives the impression that the audience are like the Taliban scanning through the trees and hills for them. It could also give the impression of the US Army looking for them especially with some of the wide lens birds eye shots.

Sound in Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant

Next up, I’m going to talk about the film’s sound. Again, credit to the film unlike other war films it does know the difference of when silence and sound and fury are better. Take for example, the scene where John and Ahmed are ambushed in a small village. Here, initially besides the two character’s dialogue there’s no sound. This is clearly intended to be like the calm before the storm as soon after gunfire rains down on the pair. Another big positive of this choice of sound is it lulls the audience into a false sense of security that the pair will always be ok.

Furthermore, for more examples of great sound in the film, look at the final battle scene on the dam. Here, because so many of the previous scenes were a lot slower and less violent, the final battle really stands out as an example of sound and fury. Also, the sound really helps immerse the audience as just when they get comfortable with the film, it switches into a much more violent scene in order to keep the audience on their feet. All of this seems very clearly designed to mimic the experience of war where you’re never truly able to relax.

Editing in Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant

To conclude my analysis of Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, I’m going to talk about the film’s editing. Firstly, it’s important to note that unlike a lot of Ritchie’s more chaotic and fast paced work The Covenant is quite a bit slower in places. But similarly to the above paragraph about the film’s sound, so much of The Covenant is designed to mimic war. Case in point, when Kinley and his team raid a Taliban mining base. Yes, it’s chaotic as anything but in this case it works. It works here as it emulates the chaos of war with more and more enemies arriving to make Kinley’s position even more untenable. Oh, sidenote it does kind of feel like a Call of Duty map though that might just be me.

Anyway, the fast energy and pace created by the editing really keeps the audience engaged in the perilous situation of John and Ahmed. However, it’s not just the frenetic pace created as there’s also longer scenes without much editing. Take for example, when Ahmed is pushing John over the mountains in a cart. Here, the long take and repetitive fades into similar looking shots show the monotony and struggle Ahmed is going through to escape the Taliban with John. 


To summarise Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant, this is a very good film which does a great job at showing the hell of war while also having an emotional core provided by Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim. Well worth a watch on Amazon Prime even if it is a bit slower than Guy Ritchie’s other work.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good

Target Audience: 15+

Content Warning: Moderate Violence and Gore, Moderate Profanity, Mild Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking, Severe Frightening and Intense Scenes

Recommendation: Yes