Sunday, February 22, 2009

Body of Lies

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Roger Ferris, a covert CIA operative who is knee-deep in dangerous situations, as he's tasked with finding and shaking down terrorists in Iraq. Russell Crowe stars as Ed Hoffman, his boss on the telephone who is safe in America and giving advice freely to Ferris while he puts his kids to sleep, takes them to school, etc. Hoffman, who's supposed to be DiCaprio's source for back-up and strategy, plays cowboy on him, and urges him to trust no one as he deals with the Iraqis and Jordanians in his quest to find terrorists. In the meantime, however, Ferris has made promises he can't keep.

The good part: Director Ridley Scott goes out of his way to explain everything to the viewer so that you don't get lost. It would seemingly be easy to do so, as we American viewers are not used to Arabic names and customs, etc., in trying to figure out who's the good guy and who's the bad guy. But I was able to follow along rather easily, thanks to Scott's storytelling abilities and DiCaprio's strong acting.

Crowe is not as interesting in this role. He really isn't worth watching, his character not that deep. However, Mark Strong (RocknRolla, Stardust) continues to amaze. In Body of Lies, Strong plays the Chief of Jordanian Intelligence, and steals each scene he's in, surprising since he plays most of his scenes with the always watchable DiCaprio.

The bad part of the film: While I was never bored during the film, I really didn't care all that much about what was happening, who was betraying whom. I don't think the end justifies the means in this film, meaning the two hours you spend watching the film will seem like a waste. However, you realize you're looking at two powerhouses in modern film, three if you count the director, so you feel compelled to watch. DiCaprio is certainly worth the journey, but the film, on the whole, is not.

Thumb's down.

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