Deception Thrills in “Body of Lies”

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Leonardo DiCaprio stars alongside Academy Award winner Russell Crowe in Ridley Scott’s Middle Eastern CIA thriller, “Body of Lies.”

Once upon a time, a rugged, attractive man working for the CIA underwent a dangerous mission in a war-torn area. Sound familiar? With the media repeatedly stressing images of Iraq since 2003, movies related to this issue have spread like wildfire. The flames still burn with Ridley Scott’s new espionage thriller, “Body of Lies.”
Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the role of Roger Ferris, a CIA operative who heads a ground mission in the Middle East to infiltrate a known terrorist organization. With the help of Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), he devises a plan to capture Al-Saleem and his criminal partners, only to find himself in a power struggle with both the CIA and the Jordanian Intelligence Agency.
Bouts of dishonesty transform into the operation from Ferris’ co-workers without his knowledge. This act causes turmoil with the head of Jordanian Intelligence, Hani (Mark Strong), creating a barrier of information between him and the United States. The mission turns awry when Ferris decides to test his morals through a conscious decision with Hoffman.
Based on David Ignatius’ 2007 novel, “Body of Lies” is Scott’s latest gruesome thriller since “American Gangster.” The film is set in many different locations from Israel and Washington D.C. to Turkey and Dubai.
Although the movie is filled with tense narrative, Scott envelops a few humorous one-liners. Many of the scenes concentrate on Ferris and Hoffman’s conversations of the current situation involving Hoffman’s role as a father; he is seen dropping his kids off at school and even helping his son go to the restroom.
Other than a few chuckles, the movie’s screenplay is beautifully written. A few speeches from Ferris and Hoffman’s discussions seem contrived at times, yet the nature of the subject makes it difficult to express in various ways.
Hani, Omar Sadiki (Ali Suliman) and Karami (Kais Nashif) are shining lights in the film. Mainly an actor in the U.K., Strong does an intimidating portrayal of a leader while Sadiki evokes the most sympathy for their situation than any of the other characters. Nashif, who starred in “Paradise Now,” delivers a chilling performance by adding substantial drama to the film. However, Crowe’s performance is average in comparison.
Although the film deals with a good group of actors, some of the scenes come off as too action-oriented, taking away from the usually emotional subject manner being displayed. In addition, the love connection between heartthrob DiCaprio and a Jordanian nurse, played by Golshifteh Farahani, is expected and typical. The film then abruptly and awkwardly turns into a love story as the feelings between both characters grow unnaturally fast, causing the whole situation to feel forced.
“The movie was confusing,” said Kim-linh Do, a first-year biological sciences major, after watching the ASUCI’s advance screening of the film. “[It] was so depressing. I couldn’t get into it.”
Sameen Sharieff, also a first-year biological sciences major, had a different point of view. “That was a good movie. [I’m] not going to say I’m going to add it to my favorites, but it was so intense, action-packed and political. I liked it.”
She continued to express her disappointment in how “movies these days put the enemy as the Muslim terrorist world.”
Despite recent films on the subject of the Iraq War that have flopped, including “Redacted” and “Home of the Brave,” “Body of Lies” is expected to break the mold with its impressive screenplay and well-acted roles.