Body Of Lies
- Cast:Vince Colosimo, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carice Van Houten, Mark Strong
- Release Date:February 25, 2009
- The Film:3.5
After an initial period of reluctance, Hollywood has responded with surprising urgency to the issues...
After an initial period of reluctance, Hollywood has responded with surprising urgency to the issues of terrorism, paranoia, 9/11 and its fallout, and the war in the Middle East. After a barrage of films and television projects dealing with this subject matter in its various forms (the series 24, The Unit and Sleeper Cell, and the films The Kingdom, Rendition, Stop-Loss, Home Of The Brave, Redacted, Syriana, Standard Operating Procedure, Taxi To The Dark Side and many more), it's now starting to become slightly wearying. Body Of Lies, the latest big budget chest-beater from Ridley Scott, ticks all of the familiar boxes: embittered CIA agents; rampant amorality undercut with a begrudging humanism; explosions; silky, morally ambivalent, essentially "good guy" Arabs to offset the cavalcade of negative portrayals; more explosions; a torture scene involving a video camera; lots of hi-tech gear and whispered "intel"; a tentative romance; and so on.
Despite the dog-eared set-ups and situations, Body Of Lies also has a hell of a lot going for it. Leonardo DiCaprio is excellent as a CIA operative desperately trying to do the right thing in a morass of manipulation and half-truths, while Russell Crowe hams it up (and porks it up too) enjoyably as DiCaprio's bloated, eyes-on-the-prize superior, who firmly believes that "nobody is innocent" and scoffs at things like human causalities. The film is well and truly stolen, however, by the excellent Mark Strong (TV's The Long Firm, Syriana, RocknRolla), who provides the perfect mix of charm and malice as the main man in Jordan's secret police, and an uneasy ally for DiCaprio.
Technically, the film is another tour de force for Ridley Scott, though he once again gets muddy when it comes to his film's themes. Scott seems to be saying that what goes around comes around, but his snaky, lying CIA agents never really get the kind of slap that their Arab counterparts do. As far as Scott is concerned, they remain the good guys, no matter how many innocent people that they frame, kill or manipulate in their war on terror. This doesn't impact on the film's tight, compelling structure, but it does leave a slightly bad taste in the mouth.