Monday, October 13, 2008

Body of Lies

Body of Lies is an interesting film. It is a film that tries to make a poignant statement about our current political situation (intervening in countries overseas, the war on terror, etc.) and it actually managed to not turn me off while doing so. Trust me, that is high praise from me for a political film. Body of Lies is a highly enjoyable film; it is populated by good acting, spy thrills, and lots of action.

Primarily, Body of Lies is a character piece. The film centers on the US war on terror through two individuals, two halves of the same team – Roger Ferris and Ed Hoffman. Ferris is the man on the ground who knows the contacts, culture and CIA side, and Hoffman is blissfully removed as the head agent in Washington DC. The conflict comes in from the fact that Hoffman thinks he knows how to run the war but ends up making big messes and getting people hurt while getting results whereas Ferris operates in effective and less damaging ways but must submit to his superior officer.

Make no mistake the biggest joy in Body of Lies is watching Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio try to out act each other – this is an acting equivalent of a peeing contest.

Russell Crowe has done a fabulous job over the past few years in trying to distance himself from his gladiator robe wearing, phone throwing persona and roles like this one help him to do so. Crowe is the biggest SOB in this movie, and yet is so damn believable you can see his personality in almost any modern politician –he’s right, he’s the only one that’s right and there is no way he can pretend he’s not right. Ed Hoffman believes he is representing all of America and Crowe plays that beautifully so that you begin to forget it’s Russell Crowe.

Leo needs to thank his lucky stars that Martin Scorsese put him in Gangs of New York and continued to use him from there; it has become obvious that Leo has managed to free himself from the teen heartthrob status he held so securely after Titanic and Romeo + Juliet and managed to get to the point where he can prove to the world he is a real actor with genuine talent. Body of Lies is another film in a series of his that shows that he is not just a pretty boy. In the film Leo is the main character and does not shy away from being dirty, beaten and at times unsympathetic. He did not let himself be outshone by Crowe.

The basic downfall of Body of Lies is the fact that the film tries to do so much, and show so many issues that it ends up being a very muddled film. You can follow it to the end and decently enjoy it, just don’t expect to remember how exactly it got to that point.

Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: William Monahan
Roger Ferris: Leonardo DiCaprio
Ed Hoffman: Russell Crowe
Hani: Mark Strong
Aisha: Golshifteh Farahani

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