Saturday, November 21, 2009

Body of Lies. B-

The basic idea in Ridley Scott's 'Body of Lies' is that the CIA is trying to stop terrorists. There's one in particular who's a great danger: Al Saleem, a devious leader of an Al Qaeda-like organization. Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a CIA operative in the Middle East who strategizes with CIA boss Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) by phone. Despite Hoffman's high status, he seems naive. The real mastermind is Ferris, who devises a plan to bring Al Saleem out by creating a phony terrorist operation. There's a lot more to the film, including another major character played by Mark Strong (memorable as always). But there's so much that goes on in 'Body of Lies' that it's hardly worth writing it all down. And that's one of the flaws in the movie. The plot is clever, but the execution felt flat and lackluster. Also, there's a turn in the plot near the end involving a dame that Ferris admires that we've seen countless times before. You'd think a flashy techo-thriller from Ridley Scott would know better. Another problem I had was with Crowe's Ed Hoffman. He's definitely not made out to be a 'good guy,' but there's not enough intrigue to his character for me to even care where his loyalties lie. Crowe does the best he can, but it was sort infuriating to see such a big star wasted like he was. DiCaprio is definitely not at his best, but his character was still likable and interesting. But the real strength of the picture was Mark Strong, who's character I'll keep a secret. I'll just say that he adds life to the picture just where it needs it. Technically 'Body of Lies' is pristine (as expected from a Ridley Scott project). The action sequences are executed to perfection, and every scene is choreographed with sleek strokes to make for a visually satisfying package. 'Body of Lies,' despite its flaws, is extremely entertaining. Like a movie such as 'Blood Diamond,' it's an action movie thrown into serious, real world conflicts. It's an odd mix, but it works enough for a slight recommendation. However, for its stars, Scott, Crowe, and DiCaprio, it's a bit of a letdown.

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