Saturday, December 20, 2008

BODY OF LIES: Realistic Look at War on Terror

BODY OF LIES (espionage thriller)
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani and Alon Aboutboul

Director: Ridley Scott

Time: 126 mins

* * * 1/2
(out of 4)

Dicaprio and Farahani in a scene from Body Of Lies

Written by William Monahan, based on the novel by David Ignatius, 'Body Of Lies' is not for the hardcore action fan. It is for those who want credulity and a bit of mystery in their movies. You won't find the teenage popcorn-crunching crowd here.

CIA agent Roger Ferris (DiCaprio) is the field guy who has all the contacts, speaks Arabic and knows the terrain. He can move with ease from Iraq to Jordan to Syria. He can tell that a nurse working in Amman is from Iran based on her accent. His boss is Ed Hoffman (Crowe), a controller who watchers over anti-terrorist ops from real-time satellite images.
Ferris and Hoffman's latest operation is to nab an elusive terrorist chief named Al-Saleem (Alon Aboutboul).

To do this, they must work with the head of Jordan's Intelligence Agency, Hani Salaam (Mark Strong). However, Hani is as smart and manipulative as any CIA director and Ferris finds himself trapped between orders from Hoffman and Hani's one instruction: "Don't lie to me." We can also see this one as Scott's critique of the Bush Administration's handling of the War on Terror masquerading as a spy thriller.

HITS AND MISSES: Ferris's missions criss-crosses so many areas and countries in the Middle East that it is rather confusing keeping track. However, once we settle in on the action, it is easy to go with the flow, including following a romantic tryst between Ferris and an Itranian nurse (Golshifteh Farahani). I particularly like Ferris's tactic of 'work like a terrorist to catch a terrorist'.

Then, there's Crowe who had to put on 50 pounds for his role as the know-all CIA boss. As expected, Crowe gives Hoffman a nice balance of cockiness and vulnerability which makes him totally likable and real. Technically, the film is top class too, with the camera repeatedly showing bursts of blood spills during the shootouts.

THE LOWDOWN: If you liked 'The Departed' and 'Kingdom Of Heaven', this one is for you too.


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