The Covenant: Is the Action Movie Inspired by a True Story?

‘The Covenant’ is an action thriller movie set during the War in Afghanistan that follows a US Army Sergeant named John Kinley, who recruits an Afghan interpreter named Ahmed during their intense mission in Afghanistan. In order to get back at the Taliban for the death of his son, Ahmed takes up the job without any hesitation. When the soldiers are ambushed, Kinley gets knocked down by the terrorist group. However, before they can capture him, Ahmed goes to Herculean lengths and rescues Kinley.

He then drags him through the desert mountains in order to get away from the Taliban. When Kinley returns to the States safe and sound, he discovers that the Taliban are in hot pursuit of Ahmed, who is still stuck somewhere in Afghanistan. So, when his call for help is denied by the authorities, Kinley takes matters into his own hands and goes on a rescue mission to save Ahmed.

Originally titled ‘Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant,’ the action-filled movie is co-written and directed by Guy Ritchie and features heartfelt onscreen performances from a talented ensemble cast comprising Jake Gyllenhaal, Dar Salim, Alexander Ludwig, Jason Wong, Christian Ochoa Lavernia, and Rhys Yates. The tension between Afghanistan and the United States is something that has been a topic of political discussion for a couple of decades, so it is only natural for you to wonder if ‘The Covenant’ is based on real events.

Screenwriters’ Inspiration from Real Events

No, ‘The Covenant’ is not based on a true story. Although the makers have not passed any statement regarding the authenticity of the story, it is highly likely that the screenwriters — Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies, and Guy Ritchie — took some inspiration from real events, given the nature of the movie’s subject matter, including the actual situations faced by Afghan interpreters and troops and the political situation between the two countries since the United States withdrew its soldiers from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Image Credit: Christopher Raphael/Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures

Reportedly, tens of thousands of US allies, especially interpreters, were left behind in the warzone that was Afghanistan, many of whom were awaiting special immigration visas so that they could move to the States. Thus, the action movie’s predominant theme of leaving the allies of one’s nation behind and the terrifying scenes that followed after the US Army pulled their troops are something very similar to what ensued in Afghanistan in real life.

However, in order to add a dramatic element to the narrative and make it all the more intriguing, the writers introduced the characters of Sergeant John Kinley and his translator Ahmed as the former returns to the warzone to save Ahmed, who had saved his life earlier in the movie. Given so many parallels between the movie and reality, it is very much possible that the war film might resonate with several US Army veterans who jumped ship after Afghanistan was captured by the Taliban in 2021.

Another reason why some of you might deem ‘The Covenant’ as something familiar and realistic is that the themes of war and the Taliban have been explored in a number of movies and TV shows over the years. However, one of the aptest examples has to be that of the 2020 action drama movieThe Outpost.’ Based on the 2012 novel ‘The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor’ by Jake Tapper, the Rod Lurie directorial gives a detailed account of the Battle of Kamdesh in the War in Afghanistan against the Taliban.

The war movie is set in 2006 that follows some US soldiers, stationed at the remote Combat Outpost Keating, who are cornered by a swarm of Taliban fighters as they find themselves become the subject of a well-planned attack, resulting in one of the bloodiest American engagements of Operation Enduring Freedom. As you can see, the subjects and elements of ‘The Outpost’ and ‘The Covenant’ are quite similar, which is why you might find connections between the two movies in question. All in all, it would be fair to say that despite having multiple similarities with some real-life situations, ‘The Covenant’ is not based on a particular true event and is the brainchild of the screenwriters.

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