a critiQal film review Body of Lies (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: To infiltrate a terrorist network in Jordan, CIA operative Roger Ferris (DiCaprio) must rely on the support of CIA veteran Ed Hoffman (Crowe) and the head of Jordanian intelligence (Strong) - but how far he can trust his supposed "allies" remains to be seen.

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  • ...DiCaprio shines in this modern-day thriller from director Ridley Scott.

Ever since we saw American Gangster (2007), we were anxious to see what Director Ridley Scott would do next. Then, Body Of Lies hit theaters, starring Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio. While it looked pretty impressive, we’ve been disappointed by both actors before, and decided to wait until the film made it’s way to DVD before checking it out.

Now that it has arrived on DVD, however, we couldn’t wait to sit down and see what Ridley Scott had in store for us this time around. Would Body Of Lies be the impressive follow-up to American Gangster (2007) we had been hoping for, or would Scott not be able to do that good again?

While Russell Crowe has never been a favorite actor (and his portrayal in Gladiator is still one of the most overrated performances of all time), he has shown he can really capture the viewer’s attention when he wants to (A Beautiful Mind (2001)). In Body Of Lies, he’s decent enough, but the viewer will easily be able to tell he’s not really trying his hardest to get the viewer involved.

Instead, his portrayal of the bureaucratic head honcho running the show comes off as the lazy fat cat American who doesn’t really care about anything. He never really seems passionate about anything at all (even when he’s supposed to be) and always seems like he’d rather be sleeping. The job doesn’t seem important to him at all – although his job does come before his family, which says a lot about what he thinks about his own flesh and blood. His scenes do their best to suck all the tension out of the film, and are nothing but a disappointment.

Thankfully for the viewers, Leonardo DiCaprio – despite supporting a rather ragged growth on his chin (it’s probably supposed to make him look tough, but instead comes off as making him look like he doesn’t like to shower), more than makes up for Russell Crowe’s lackluster performance. DiCaprio’s Ferris is a man totally dedicated to his cause, a man who – in the midst of danger – calmly promises to execute his friend if plans go awry, and receives a promise of the same in return. He truly believes that what he’s doing is the only way the US will ever win the war on terror, and he devotes his entire life to it – despite being betrayed by even his own government on occasion.

DiCaprio’s passion for the role shines through from the very first moment he’s on screen, and he easily captures the viewer’s attention from the get-go. As the movie progresses, and he finds out that he may be doing the right thing, but he may not have the backing he really needs to get the job done, viewers will be with him every step of the way as his attitude slowly begins to change. By the time the movie comes to a close, viewers will feel they have been on quite the journey with DiCaprio – something even his much ballyhooed role in Titanic (1997) never came close to expressing.

Director Ridley Scott takes the new world of terrorism and intrigue and lays out a masterfully put together film that will grip the viewer’s attention and not let go until the final credits roll. He’s able to build tension right from the start, and despite the varied locales, never once lets the viewer’s attention wander. While Islamic terrorism is definitely the hot button of the day in film, Ridley manages to give us a new angle on the violence, and is able to make the whole idea seem fresh again.

With an outstanding performance by DiCaprio and his “allies” in foreign countries (especially Mark Strong as Hani Salaam and Golshifteh Farahani as a nurse who captures Ferris’ attention), Ridley Scott has done it again. While other leading man Russell Crowe’s performance is sub-par, the rest of the film more than makes up for it, making Body Of Lies something worth seeing. Check it out for yourself today – you’ll be glad you did.

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