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Body of Lies

  • Film
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

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.
Written by Trevor Johnston

Release Details

  • Rated:15
  • Release date:Friday 21 November 2008
  • Duration:128 mins

Cast and crew

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