Body Of Lies: Movie Review
Rating - 8/10
Cast: Leonardo di Caprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong
Director: Ridley Scott
Post 9/11, spy films have been gritty affairs when the
celluloid landscape changed permanently the day after September 11th.
For a while afterwards, Hollywood contented itself with what have been termed
"Just War" films (such as Black Hawk Down, Collateral Damage) and fantasy
stories (Lord of the Rings) as the horror of what happened that day in New York
proved too raw to reflect on the big screen.
But in recent years, there's been a resurgence in grittier, murkier post 9/11
films, where the muddier views of the conflict presented neither side in a good
light (think Syriana).
Body of Lies is the latest addition to the genre and sees director Ridley
Scott (Alien, Bladerunner) take on the 2007 book from Washington Post columnist
Leonardo di Caprio plays CIA operative Roger Ferris, an undercover
operative, who uncovers a lead on a major terrorist leader Al Saleem.
His shadowy al Qaeda like group has struck several times across Europe and is
believed to be operating out of Jordan.
Ferris' work is watched from afar (via a series of satellites and constant
mobile phone contact) by Ed Hoffman, a CIA head (played by Russell Crowe) who is
impatient when it comes to tackling the ongoing war on terror and is insistent
on getting results - no matter what the collateral damage is.
However, Ferris decides diplomacy is perhaps the best way to try and capture
Al Saleem, so he teams up with Hani (Mark Strong) a charismatic and enigmatic
Jordanian covert operations official.
But as the operation continues and Hoffman's impatience puts everyone at
risk, Ferris starts to lose track of who he can and can't trust - not only with
the success of the operation - but with his life as well.
Body of Lies is an extremely intelligent thriller - it starts off slowly and
will feel to some, overlong.
However, as the film progresses, the tension and paranoia ratchets up and you
find yourself completely immersed in it, with some quite realistic and graphic
scenes of violence and torture providing the shocks.
Crowe and di Caprio are good in this - but as far as I am concerned, easily
the best performance comes from Mark Strong as Hani - you're never quite sure
whether how trustworthy he is as he exudes a level of quiet menace - and you get
a sense that he could turn the gun on those he's working with while looking them
directly in the eye and telling them not to worry.
Ridley Scott's direction is tight and despite the (at times) sprawling nature
of the story telling as it traverses the globe, you never once lose track of
what exactly is going on.
Body of Lies is an intelligent thriller and one which demands a little
concentration from the audience - it's a chilling reminder of what lengths and
on what levels (personal and professional), the ongoing fight against terror
cells is being conducted.