Friday, 10 October 2008

Body Of Lies: Movie Review

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 David Ignatius.
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.

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