Codes of honor: Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim talk ‘Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant’

Christopher Raphael / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures© 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant isn’t the usual Guy Ritchie film. Gone are the hyperkinetic cinematography and edit jumps, trading up for grounded, measured combat and razor-tense action sequences. But one thing remains: Ritchie’s knack for focusing on imperfect characters, which is where Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim come in.

“These guys begrudgingly are heroes to each other,” Gyllenhaal tells ABC Audio.

The war drama puts Gyllenhaal’s U.S. Army Sgt. John Kinley on a rescue mission to save his Afghan interpreter, Ahmed, played by Salim. Both are put in extraordinary circumstances during the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan. They’re from very different backgrounds and thrown into situations they would rather avoid, but it’s their debt to each other that holds strong when the Taliban goes on the hunt for them.

“I also think that’s what really makes it human in a lot of ways,” Gyllenhaal adds. “Ultimately, that’s what really moves me because I think the fabric of humanity is made from these types of actions.”

“It’s a reluctant relationship. It’s an unsentimental relationship,” Salim tells ABC Audio. “It shows how much unites us more than divides us. It was important for me to portray a guy that you could relate to even though he’s from that part of the world.”

Gyllenhaal is no stranger to military portrayals onscreen, having played a real-life Marine in 2005’s Jarhead, a movie praised for its accuracy of military personnel and combat tactics. Gyllenhaal tells ABC Audio that sort of realism and those expectations are also on display here. “It’s always an honor and also I think puts an extra pressure on you because you want to be able to deliver for them, you know?” he says.  

Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant is in theaters now.

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