Body of Lies

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/11/2008

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 128 mins

Over-directed, frequently dull and ultimately disappointing thriller that wastes the talents of its two leads and strands them with a tedious script that somehow manages to be both confusing and overly simplistic.

What's it all about?
Based on a novel by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, Body of Lies stars Leonardo DiCaprio as CIA operative Roger Ferris, who's embedded in Afghanistan because of his knowledge and understanding of the culture. He works closely with CIA veteran Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), who coordinates military strikes from a laptop in the suburbs, thanks to a high-tech monitoring system.

While pursuing a terrorist cell led by Al-Saleem (Alon Aboutboul), Ferris secures the co-operation of the Director of the Jordanian General Intelligence Services, Hani Salaam (Mark Strong). However, Hoffman's imperious actions result in Salaam's agents being compromised, leading him to expel Ferris from Jordan.

The Good
British actor Mark Strong's performance is easily the best thing in the film - he portrays Hani Salaam with such an air of carefully-controlled menace and powerful charisma that he ends up becoming the most interesting character.

The Bad
Ridley Scott over-directs as if his life depended on it, clearly convinced the story is more important than it actually is. To that end, we get the pounding soundtrack and lots of high-tech wizardry and flashy camerawork, none of which is supported by the story.

DiCaprio does his best, but the script gives him very little to work with: the central plot is confusing and badly thought-out, while Crowe's character is so poorly fleshed out (we never for a moment understand what his character actually wants) that you wonder why he took the role in the first place. Similarly, the love interest element (Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani plays Ferris' girlfriend) is unconvincing and serves only to give Ferris extra motivation when she's kidnapped.

Worth seeing?
In short, Body of Lies is a disappointing thriller that completely wastes its talented cast, while Scott's heavy-handed direction ensures that any message the film might have had is lost in all the empty noise.

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Content updated: 24/08/2019 00:50

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