Sunday, October 12, 2008

Movie Review:Body of Lies

The previews for Body of Lies (2008) seemed to be built around the conceit that either Roger Ferris (Leonardo DeCaprio) or Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) was a mole in the CIA who was actually working for the terrorists. This assumption of course could not be made by anyone who has read the book it is based on, but that is beside the point.

While action packed, Body  takes a while to hit its stride. Ferris is a knowledgeable Middle East operative who works under Hoffman. Hoffman tends to keep his field operatives in the dark and run multiple operations simultaneously, some of which interfere with each other.

When Ferris tries to bring in an informant, Hoffman refuses. The informant is caught so Ferris kills him so he cannot reveal who Ferris is. Against Hoffman's orders, he and his partner go to raid a safe house. The partner ends up getting killed and Ferris badly hurt. When he recovers he heads to Jordan where he falls for an Iranian nurse named Aisha (Golshifteh Farahani). Meanwhile, the head of Jordanian security named Hani (Mark Strong)  and Ferris try to work together. Repeated interference by Hoffman causes them massive problems. It comes to a head when Hani will not turn over control of his informant inside the terrorist cell to Hoffman. First, however, Hani and Ferris work together on a safe house project.

Together they try to track users of an Al Quaeda splinter group safe house in an attempt to find mastermind terrorist Al-Saleem (Alon Abutbul). When the safe house is burned down they lose their lead. Convinced Ferris knew about the operation Hoffman had ordered that caused the disaster, Hani throws Ferris out of Jordan. 

Ferris concocts a plan to make an innocent architect named Omar Sadiki (Ali Suliman) look like a terrorist mastermind in an attempt to make Al-Saleem reveal himself out of jealousy. The plan works to an extent but Al-Saleem kills Sadiki when he realizes Sadiki was a pawn. 

Sickened by the mounting losses, Ferris is on the edge of quitting when Aisha is captured. He tried to exchange himself for her. As Saleem and his men prepare to torture Ferris to death, Hani makes the last second rescue. 

Sickened by the continued disposal of innocent people by Hoffman's methods, Ferris quits to stay in Jordan with (presumably) Aisha. 

The action in this movie is excellent, the web of deceit often hard to untangle (I deliberately left out a couple of twists that may or may not surprise you) and the various considerations of each character make enough sense to keep you intrigued with the movie beginning to end. If you like action movies, this is a good choice. If you like thrillers, it is a good choice. If you just like good stories with a bit more complexity than the average cinematic fare, this is the right choice. Overall, a very entertaining flick. 

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