Sunday 12 December 2010

Movie Review: Body Of Lies (2008)

Body Of Lies brings a lot of firepower to the table, but none of it ignites and the film fizzles like a damp firecracker. The combination of Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, director Ridley Scott and the turmoil in the Middle East should sparkle. Nothing goes right as everyone appears to sleepwalk through the proceedings, hampered by a lack of inspiration in William Monahan's script and an over-dependence on tiresome cliches.

DiCaprio is CIA field agent Roger Ferris, hunting terrorists on the streets of the Middle East, assisted by locals with dubious sympathies. Ed Hoffman (Crowe) is Ferris' handler, based in DC, less clever than he thinks he is and preoccupied with shuttling his kids to their suburban activities while trying to capture terrorists by long distance. Ferris gets a handle on a terrorist safe house in Amman, and connects with Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), the head of Jordanian Intelligence. Between Hoffman's meddling, Salaam's conniving, the terrorists' plotting, and Ferris' muddling, all the plans interfere with each other and not much of anything gets achieved by anyone. This may be a true reflection of progress in the Middle East, but it wasn't the intention of this movie to artistically fall flat on its face.

Body Of Lies is a graphic metaphor for America's foreign policy being out of its depth in the world's most dangerous neighbourhood, but it lacks any sort of emotional connection, captivating drama, or genuine personal involvement. DiCaprio tries but resoundingly fails to recreate the impact of his role in Blood Diamond, as an outsider more at home in a foreign land. Crowe is distracted enough to almost bring the movie to a standstill every time he's on the screen. And the artificially appended romance between Ferris and an Iranian doctor in Amman produces nothing but cringes. There are some moderately interesting action sequences, but without any intellectual or emotional capital to draw upon, even the shoot-outs and explosions come dangerously close to tedium.

Body Of Lies is more of a skeleton, with the bones of what would have been good ideas left to rattle in the empty box of lazy execution.

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