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  Publicity Stills of
"Body Of Lies"
(Courtesy of Warner Bros)

Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani, Oscar Isaac, Simon McBurney
RunTime: 2 hrs 8 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: NC-16 (Some Violence)
Official Website: http://bodyoflies.warnerbros.com/

Opening Day: 20 November 2008


Based on Washington Post columnist David Ignatius’ 2007 novel about a CIA operative, Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio), who uncovers a lead on a major terrorist leader suspected to be operating out of Jordan. When Ferris devises a plan to infiltrate his network, he must first win the backing of cunning CIA veteran Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) and the collegial, but perhaps suspect, head of Jordanian intelligence. Although ostensibly his allies, Ferris questions how far he can really trust these men without putting his entire operation – and his life – on the line.

Movie Review:

Director Ridley Scott is 70 years old. And he is still making movies - and highly thrilling and gripping ones too. Mention 'It’s so manly we feel like going out there and get ourselves dirty' movies like Gladiator (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001) and Kingdom of Heaven (2005), and the director’s gritty style of filmmaking immediately comes to mind. For his latest work, elements of political conspiracies, secret operations, dangerous terrorism acts, spies and espionages are added to the mix and it’s only natural that all hot blooded male viewers would be looking forward rough it out with the characters in this action thriller drama.

For some awkward reason, we didn’t find ourselves enjoying it the way we anticipated it to be. And only reason we can come up with is the fact that we have seen a tad too many such movies: Lions for Lambs, Rendition, The Kingdom, Blood Diamonds, anyone?

William Monahan (The Departed) adapts David Ignatius’s 2007 novel into a screenplay to tell the story of a secret CIA agent working in Jordan whose main task is to hunt down terrorists who target civilian victims. Along the way, he discovers dangerous information about a religious mastermind and comes up with a plan to infiltrate the network. The massive operation isn’t a one man mission, so help comes from his chief in Washington, as well as a local intelligence department. But in this time and age, the issue of trust is a thorny one, and there is a price to pay for trying to push the boundaries to complete a perilous mission like this.

The first thing that catches your attention is the cast headlining the movie- two big names that are Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. One is a leading man who has matured nicely since his “My Heart Will Go On” Titanic days; the other is an Oscar winner who has displayed his capable acting chops in varying roles like a vengeful warrior (Gladiator), a Mathematics genius (A Beautiful Mind) and a family loving boxer (Cinderella Man). Put the two together and you get a gleeful burst of energy that’s neither too melodramatic nor over the top. Although we had to wait almost an hour before the two appear in the same scene, the chemistry between the two capable actors is unquestionably the highlight of the movie.

The other supporting characters, ranging from Mark Strong’s (RocknRolla) dodgy Jordanian intelligence officer, Golshifteh Farahani’s (To Each His Cinema) charismatic nurse, to other somewhat unremarkable Middle Eastern characters, all give commendable performances to engage the viewers.

However, the 128 minute movie meanders a little too much, going off course into several side plots that may become too complicated and complex for the casual viewer to follow. The impatient ones may find it difficult to stay on track with its multiple locations, undistinguished characterizations and muddling pace.

Sure, there are few adrenaline packed chase sequences in the movie, but they do not rise to the occasion to make it a memorable one. And any seasoned movie watcher can see the 'oh, there is always someone watching you from up there' ending a mile away. What’s left of this anticipated movie is the respectable leading cast’s tension filled and winning performances. Till the next 'America vs. the Middle East' thriller or the next Ridley Scott 'we want to get as rough as those men' movie comes along, we’d have to make do with this.

Movie Rating:

(Watch this been-there-done-that thriller for its leading men)

Review by John Li


. A Mighty Heart (2008)

. American Gangster (2007)

. The Hunting Party (2007)

. Lions For Lambs (2007)

. Rendition (2007)

. The Kingdom (2007)

. The Kite Runner (2007)

. Blood Diamond (2006)

. The Departed (2006)




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