I'll go through what I like and what I don't as I see the movie for the first time:
A setting rarely seen in movies today.
A good, if fast-paced montage of a kingdom trying to modernize that could've had much more done with it.
A love subplot that finally doesn't seem shoehorned in.
The following conversation:
SULTAN: Why do you always have to mock everything?
DOCTOR: It's easier.
DOCTOR: Than to discuss out true feelings.
A beautiful soundtrack that lacks the cliches usually associated with movies that take place in the desert/middle east.
The language is in English, spoken by people with funny but not-altogether-convincing accents.
Casting Antonio Banderas as an Arab is like casting Sean Connery as a Spaniard.
The opening is lightly front-loaded with exposition both through text and clunky dialogue in a way that would be more effectively done otherwise, but the picture unfortunately begins in what is really the middle of the beginning of the movie.
A montage that desperately wants the audience to care for the growing children, but handles a decade within a minute without any appropriate transitions.
The king hears there is oil on his land, but is surprised to hear that it will make him rich.
Obligatory "strong princess that doesn't believe in arranged marriages" lines.
Quick cuts that make scenes seem unnecessarily short.
The Sultan is disappointed by his estranged son and dismisses him, but the son returns in the next scene, doing what they disagreed over with no 'change of heart' transition.
A Sheikh breaks one of the most-valued and important of traditions in Bedouin culture and attacks his guest. (not necessarily a bad thing, but it seemed to come out of the blue)
Obligatory 'dramatic death of a family member' scene.
The King's sudden disdain for his adopted hostage/son.
Obligatory 'villian killed by his own monologue' scene.
This kind of movie is the kind of movie I usually very much like, but they don't come by often and sometimes end up being a disappointment. Day of the Falcon was certainly no disappointment, but if what you seek in a movie is refined direction, it is not for you. It is full of half-finished items and untrained cinematography. The film composition wasn't poor, but the action jumped a lot with many scenes, making it seem like they were cut halfway through. It seems that in post-production, someone told the editors to cut a full hour of the movie out. They left in a lot of good things, but left out most major character development, making the characters distinctly flat on such a vibrant background. The movie gently touched on a lot of character-building opprotunities and just tossed them aside. When Auda arrived with all of the Southern tribes, he was ready to lead them into war, but before this scene, he was vehemently against it and denied being the Mahdi.
without appropriate transition, Auda just seems half-developed. Many people complain that it is too long. The movie is indeed long, and more could have been done in the time allotted with better editing. But I like the length and would even prefer it longer to develop it more. I enjoy long, sweeping, epic movies with good stories. And in that sense, Day of the Falcon just falls short. It stumbles into a few cliches and as I've said a lot before, the characterization needed some work. But what really bothered me was the last-minute assassination of Amar, which let Auda take control of the kingdom without him having to deal with the morally-questionable options available to him before (usurp his Father and adopted father to take the kingdom or yield to both of them and allow the kingdom to remain fractured, without schools, roads, or hospitals). That kind of Deus ex Machina took away what could have been a great moment for Auda's character and, I felt, took away from an otherwise-fine story.
In short, Day of the Falcon is a good movie, but inexpert direction takes off two stars. 3/5
It's still better than most of the crap I've seen come out of Hollywood recently.