"Body of Lies"
Directed by Ridley Scott.
Written by William Monahan. Based on the novel by David
Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Golshifteh Farahani
and Mark Strong.
Release Year: 2008
Review Date: 10/15/08
When you go see a Ridley Scott film, you
expect greatness, since the guy has made at least four
no-doubt-about-it classics: "Alien", "Blade Runner", "Thelma &
"Gladiator." My favorite war film ever,
"Black Hawk Down" could be on
that list, but I know a few doubters who don't love that flick as
much as I do.
With "Body of Lies", you get a 20-minute
so-so action film, an hour-long so-so political thriller with
globetrotting plotlines, and a 30-minute bad quiet romantic drama.
Note that none of those sections are great, and that makes "Body of
Lies" a film that won't be remembered as much of anything.
Scott collaborates with his new favorite actor, Russell Crowe, along
with Leo DiCaprio as CIA agents tasked with finding a mad Middle
Eastern bomber who is leaving his mark on tragedies in the UK and
mainland Europe. After the killer's path somehow leads to
Jordan, Agent Ferris (DiCaprio) teams with the Jordanian national
police and their leader, Hani Amman (Mark Strong), to track leads
all over the country. And after an alley brawl, Ferris
eventually has to see a doctor (Golshifteh Farahani), who happens to
be a hot female who likes to have coffee with her new love interest.
Blah. The previews for "Body of Lies"
sell its action, but literally every scene from the film's two
action scenes are in the first 15 minutes. This leaves the
action fan hangin' for more, and unfortunately, it never comes.
Instead, we get to watch DiCaprio and Crowe banter over patriotism,
and honor, and leaving good people behind, and making decisions in
the interest of national security, blah blah blah. This was
probably a better book (naturally, it's based on a "best-selling
novel"; can every book ever written really be best selling?), but
the script by William Monahan feels tired very early in the film.
No surprises, no revelations about the secret dealings of the CIA or
black ops groups or satellite feeds..."24" does this kind of thing
Despite this, the film is fairly watchable.
DiCaprio really is special as an actor, and his ability to lift this
filth into mediocrity is a credit to him. Crowe's one-liners
are occasionally amusing, the two action bits are not bad, and
torture sequences here make you squirm. Things get very
predictable in the end, but at least "Body of Lies" doesn't make you
"Miracle at St. Anna" does by ending your misery in about 110
minutes. Rent the video, but don't buy it!
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard