Friday, October 10, 2008

REVIEW: Body Of Lies...



War doesn't necessarily mean good box office. Last year, we saw the release of Lions For Lambs, Rendition, and then this year we saw Stop Loss, and besides all being overtly about the Iraq War, they all had another thing in common. They bombed. However, this year, we have Ridley Scott, director of huge blockbusters, such as Gladiator, to try and boost this new sub-genre and has brought along Leonardo DiCaprio and Russel Crowe to try and give it some box office respect. So, with that pedigree, does the film live up to the Oscar hype?

Body of Lies is a new film based on Washington Post columnist David Ignatius's 2007 novel of the same name, about a CIA operative, Roger Ferris (DiCaprio), who tries to devise a plan to infiltrate a well known terrorist's network. With the help of CIA big wig, Ed Hoffman (Crowe), and the Chief of Jordanian Intelligence, Hani Salaam,he risks his own life, and the life of a young girl for whom he grows to like and fall in love with. However, with all of these cooks in this big time kitchen, peoples views on who they can and can't trust are squued.

Alright, so, with this cast and crew, one would expect this film to knock it out of the park right? Well, it's more of an inside the park home run, more than a grand slam, out of the park. The film is spearheaded by the two lead performances, both pretty top notch. DiCaprio is at his best in this film. He is a little to over the top at points, and he has a little trouble with a southern accent, but he recovers in the interchanges between him and Crowe, and the young girl, Golshifteh Farahani, who is also solid, and absolutely gorgeous. Crowe and DiCaprio are this generations DeNiro and Pacino. Two of the best actors working today, and seeing them together just had me excited. This is what Righteous Kill should have been like, if DeNiro and Pacino could still act. That all said, they are both over shined by a pitch perfect performance from Mark Strong, who plays Hani Salaam. He is brilliant in this role, and will be a real actor to watch out for. He will be seen in the upcoming film RockNRolla, and will portray the villain in Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes. He gives easily one of the best supporting performances of this year.

Also, a thing that they do really well that other films like Eagle Eye don't, is they don't get heavy into the tech behind the film. In Body Of Lies, Crowe's character is able to servile anyone and everyone, especially the major players in the government, and they don't get really deep into how they do that, and it just really worked for me. Also, as one could expect with a Ridley Scott film, it looks absolutely gorgeous, but it is a surprise that it was Alexander Witt as the cinematographer, who has taken a ten year hiatus from the craft. This is a thriller, so there are a few action scenes, but they aren't shot in a shaky cam or a "Michael Bay" type of way. There are a few gorgeous, sweeping shots of desert, along with a few really solid action set pieces, especially an amazing helicopter chase scene. All of this aside, the film has a few problems.

There is one huge problem that has been plaguing a lot of the past few releases that I've checked out. This film can not find it's way out of the land of cliche. This is the epitome of a thriller procedural. Also, with the solid direction, there are a few instances in which it felt much more (and I'm a music nerd, so excuse this analogy) legato when it needed to feel a little more staccato, sort of like the awkwardness in the direction of the ferry boat sequence in The Dark Knight. There are a few instances where the score comes off as a little heavy handed, and it is a tad bit long. However, those are really the only problems I had with this film.

Body Of Lies: 8/10

Solid, suspenseful thriller surrounded by pitch perfect performances and some gorgeous, if sometimes awkward, direction by Ridley Scott. A perfect film this isn't, but one that you should check out, it is.

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