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Body of Lies (2008)

Body of Lies reunites my all-time favorite actor (Russell Crowe) with one of my favorite directors (Ridley Scott) for a third and definitely not final feature film outing. Along with the ever popular Leonardo DiCaprio, Body of Lies continues what seems to be the revival of the espionage thriller; unfortunately its a revival of rather average proportions, and Body of Lies doesn't do much to help overcome that.

Body of Lies plays on the current tension between the Middle East and the rest of the world as CIA operative Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his handler in Washington, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), attempt to find a terrorist leader by the name of Al-Saleem. Al-Saleem leads a group associated with recent bomb attacks around Europe, but the group's aversion to using technology makes them extremely difficult to locate. Hoffman attempts to procure a Jordan double agent to assist in locating Al-Saleem, but Jordan's head of security, Hani Salaam, refuses to give up a large amount of power to the United States. If Al-Saleem is to be brought to justice it will be by him.

Hoffman doesn't adhere nicely to rejection, he's very impatient and takes to doing things his own way in order to speed up the results. This usually causes trouble for Ferris, whose in the thick of it all. So while Hoffman pulls the strings thousands of miles away, Ferris has to attempt to keep the situation in Jordan under control before he's killed by Al-Saleem or banished by Hani Salaam.  This makes it difficult for Ferris because he has acquire friendships with people in the Middle East who are ultimately put in harms way due to some of the decisions made by people not aware of the real goings on at ground level.

Body of Lies is another one of those political thrillers that I can't seem to get excited about.  I watched this film for the first time back in April of 2009 and started reviewing it but never had much enthusiasm for completing that review.  On the second go around my feelings haven't changed.  Russell Crowe gives a great performance as Ed Hoffman, pulling all the strings on the other side of the world and letting Roger Ferris deal with the consequences, but Hoffman really isn't a huge part of the film, so Crowe's scenes end up being the few highlights of the film.

DiCaprio gives a good performance, but there's nothing in this film that truly sets his character apart from many of his past roles.  Throw in Mark Strong, who plays a spot on Middle Eastern dignitary and Body of Lies definitely has a fine cast, but it's the story which simply failed to excite me.  In my opinon, Body of Lies is a slightly better version of DiCaprio's other thriller Blood Diamond, a film released prior to Body of Lies which I found extremely tedious at times.  Overall, Body of Lies is worth a watch, the acting is very good, the action scenes are exhilarating, and the concept of the story is interesting but to me it ends up being another political thriller that runs out of steam before the film runs out of time.



  1. ahhh... body of pies! this was the first of russell's films that i saw on the silver screen (yeah, i'm a late bloomer), and i got very excited about it mostly for that reason. i agree with you that this is a less-than-thrilling political thriller, but it does have its moments, some of them terrifying, some of them touching, and a few of them outright hysterically funny, at least to me.
    there are several really great backstories that russell has told about this film but my favorite is this: there is a great deleted scene from the one when hoffman invades ferris' apartment. russell was told to improvise a bit to fill some dead air space, and his remark was a bit off the wall and ended up on the cutting room floor (sadly). since he and dicaprio had first worked together some 12 years earlier on a film with gene hackman, russell decided to mention a film that hackman had been in as the in-flight movie. ferris asks hoffman how his flight was. hoffman said, "you know that movie poseidon? they showed that." ferris - "how was it?" hoffman - "it was kinda like watchin' a greek girl gettin' a bikini wax - you never knew when it would end."
    probably a good thing it didn't make it to the final cut of the film...

  2. wow. has nobody else seen this film, or have they lost interest in this series? i hope it's neither!

  3. @becks - plenty of people are reading it, I just don't think anyone has anything substantial to agree or disagree with me about it. For me I thought the action sequences were probably the highlights, and the torture sequence at the end was a head turner.


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