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Is “The Covenant” a True Story?

“The Covenant” is a 2023 war drama film directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim. The movie tells the story of a U.S. Army Sergeant and his Afghan interpreter who form a close bond during their mission in Afghanistan. The movie is not based on a true story, but it is inspired by the real-life experiences of interpreters and soldiers who served in the war in Afghanistan. In this article, we will explore the plot, the making, and the reception of “The Covenant”, and how it portrays the challenges and the friendship between soldiers and interpreters.

The Plot

Plot Overview

“The Covenant,” directed by Guy Ritchie, follows the story of U.S. Army Sergeant John Kinley, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, and his Afghan interpreter Ahmed Abdullah, played by Dar Salim. The film is set in Afghanistan during the American occupation in 2018. Kinley’s life is saved by Ahmed in a heroic act, leading to a bond between the two characters amidst the dangers and challenges of war123.

Main Characters

  1. Master Sergeant John Kinley (Jake Gyllenhaal): A rugged American soldier who forms a close relationship with his Afghan interpreter, Ahmed. Kinley navigates the complexities of war and grapples with his duty to protect Ahmed and his family.
  2. Ahmed Abdullah (Dar Salim): An Afghan interpreter who works with Kinley and puts himself at risk to assist the U.S. Army. Ahmed’s character embodies resilience and courage as he faces the perils of war while striving to secure visas for his family to move to the United States.

Setting during American Occupation in Afghanistan

“The Covenant” unfolds against the backdrop of America’s prolonged presence in Afghanistan, shedding light on the challenges faced by soldiers and interpreters during this conflict-ridden period. The film delves into the intricacies of promises made to Afghan allies and the harsh realities they encounter post-withdrawal, highlighting themes of loyalty, sacrifice, and the impact of war on individuals. Guy Ritchie’s portrayal in “The Covenant” aims to capture the essence of the war-torn landscape in Afghanistan while exploring the dynamics between U.S. soldiers and their Afghan counterparts. The movie delves into the personal struggles and sacrifices made by individuals caught in the midst of conflict, offering a nuanced perspective on the human experiences within a war-torn setting

Is “The Covenant” Based on a True Story?

“The Covenant” is not based on a true story, but it is inspired by the collective experiences of interpreters and soldiers who served in the war in Afghanistan. Guy Ritchie, the director of the movie, said that he wanted to tell a story that was authentic and realistic, but also emotional and engaging. He said that he was inspired by several documentaries and interviews that he watched about Afghanistan, and he wanted to pay tribute to the interpreters who risked their lives to help the U.S. military.

The movie feels real and convincing because of the performances of the cast and the direction by Guy Ritchie. Jake Gyllenhaal and Dar Salim deliver powerful and nuanced performances as Kinley and Ahmed, portraying their characters with depth and emotion. They also underwent intensive training and preparation to play their roles, learning the military skills and the languages required for the movie. Guy Ritchie, who is known for his stylish and fast-paced movies, also shows his ability to create a gritty and immersive war movie, using realistic locations, props, and effects.

The Making of “The Covenant”

Guy Ritchie said that he was inspired to make “The Covenant” after watching several documentaries about Afghanistan, such as “Restrepo”, “The Hornet’s Nest”, and “The Interpreters”. He said that he was fascinated by the stories of the interpreters and the soldiers, and he wanted to explore their relationship and their challenges. He said that he wanted to make a movie that was not only a war movie, but also a human drama and a buddy movie.

The casting process for the movie was also a challenge, as Ritchie had to find the right actors to play the main characters. He said that he was looking for actors who could portray the physical and emotional aspects of their roles, as well as the linguistic and cultural aspects. He said that he was impressed by Jake Gyllenhaal’s dedication and talent, and he was happy to work with him again after their previous collaboration in “The Gentlemen”. He said that he was also lucky to find Dar Salim, who is an Iraqi-Danish actor who speaks fluent Arabic and English. He said that Salim brought a lot of authenticity and charisma to his role as Ahmed, and he had a great chemistry with Gyllenhaal.

Reception and Impact

“The Covenant” received positive reviews from critics and audiences, who praised the movie for its realism, its performances, and its message. The movie was also a commercial success, grossing over $200 million worldwide. The movie was nominated for several awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor.

The movie also had an impact on the public awareness and the appreciation of the interpreters who served in the war in Afghanistan. The movie highlighted the challenges and the dangers faced by the interpreters, who often had to deal with threats, discrimination, and violence from both sides of the conflict. The movie also showed the difficulties and the delays that the interpreters faced in obtaining visas and asylum in the U.S. after the U.S. military withdrew from Afghanistan. The movie sparked a debate and a movement to support and protect the interpreters who helped the U.S. military, and to honor their contribution and their sacrifice.


“The Covenant,” directed by Guy Ritchie, is not based on a true story but draws inspiration from the collective experiences of interpreters and soldiers during the war in Afghanistan. The film weaves together various anecdotes, documentaries, and real-life accounts to create a narrative that reflects the challenges faced by individuals involved in the conflict.

Despite being a work of fiction, “The Covenant” feels real and convincing due to the exceptional performances of the cast and Guy Ritchie’s direction. The portrayal of the relationship between Master Sergeant John Kinley (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and Afghan translator Ahmed Abdullah (played by Dar Salim) resonates authentically with audiences. The nuanced performances bring depth to their characters, capturing the complexities of their bond amidst the backdrop of war.

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