Body of Lies

Film, Action and adventure
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars
Ever had the feeling your boss doesn’t have your best interests at heart? The stakes are certainly high for Leonardo DiCaprio’s CIA operator on the ground in the Middle East, who’s fluent in Arabic, culturally aware, and covertly tracking terror suspects. What he doesn’t need is his Washington handler (a porked-out yet somehow terrifyingly steely Russell Crowe) continuing to operate on a separate gung-ho agenda, blithely impacting on his agent’s carefully cultivated trust with the Jordanian intelligence service (headed by a suave, scene-stealing Mark Strong). Meanwhile, as Manchester, England, buckles under the latest extremist outrage, the information war is too important to lose.

Adapted from a David Ignatius novel by ‘The Departed’ writer William Monahan, Scott’s latest almost manages to square the circle of providing a cogent analysis of Bush II’s foreign policy failings while delivering a steady stream of multiplex-friendly bumps, scrapes and explosions. Anchored by a hard-working, persuasive DiCaprio, it’s dense, knotty stuff, convincing (as ever with Sir Ridley) in its milieu, and offering a deftly pointed study in contrasts between front-line personnel who really know the territory and powerful, insular decision-makers, far removed from the daily threat of assassination or abduction.

Perhaps Scott’s ever-restless shooting style doesn’t quite differentiate between the peaks and troughs of the narrative, yet it’s still an engrossing account of the intersection between process and ethics – shades of Jean-Pierre Melville? Docked a star, unfortunately, for a hokey final reel which somewhat reduces the intelligence quotient, though the trenchant coda very nearly gets it back again.

By: Trevor Johnston



Release details

Release date:
Friday November 21 2008
128 mins

Cast and crew

Ridley Scott
William Monahan
Simon McBurney
Alon Aboutboul
Oscar Isaac
Mehdi Nebbou
Vince Colosimo
Leonardo DiCaprio
Russell Crowe
Ali Suliman
Golshifteh Farahani
Mark Strong
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