Deceit is the name of the game in Ridley Scott’s new espionage-fuelled thrill ride Body of Lies. In the world of spies, where trusting your ally can often be more dangerous than trusting your enemy, the CIA is in a race against time against a new extremist terrorist faction.
With all the new Bourne and Bond films relying on the seemingly super-human agents who can take worlds of abuse and still stand strong with no emotion, it’s a nice change of pace to see an espionage flick where the main protagonist actually shows some human traits, such as a conscience and emotion. In Body of Lies we have a regular man in an irregular position and we get to se how he adapts and changes accordingly.
It’s based on the best selling book by David Ignatius and, following the war in Iraq, tells the story of CIA operative in the Middle East, Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio). It then deals with his struggle with the war on terrorism, all while he attempts to deal with keeping both his American ally, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), and local ally, Head of the Jordanian Intelligence Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), informed and content with progress. Plus there’s the small matter of trying to infiltrate an Al Qaeda faction, led by Al Saleem, to stop the string of bombings occurring across Europe. And what’s any movie without a good ol’ romantic sub plot? After one of the many injuries that Roger Ferris sustains he is taken to a small hospital where he meets the nurse (Golshifteh Farahani), who becomes Ferris’ love interest.
DiCaprio is brilliant in his role as Ferris, the young and idealistic hot-shot CIA agent whose imperfections make him far more believable and sympathetic. As engaging as Leo is the film would have been lost without Russell Crowe’s portrayal of the CIA vet Ed Hoffman and the hilarious banter between them. Their characters complement each other perfectly: where Roger Ferris is intensely serious and firm in his beliefs and morals, living on the front line and in a constant state of alertness, Ed Hoffman is a fat, lazy older man who we see giving all his orders by cell phone while safely in America, looking after his children and being a family man. He is overly friendly, always referring to Ferris as “little buddy”, and stuck on the notion that he knows best when it comes to national security and as he so delicately puts it “saving civilisation”.
Though Ridley Scott’s direction is familiar to those who have seen his recent films, he still delivers an exciting and enjoyable experience, making the most of location shooting in Morocco and employing a gritty first person view of modern day life in the Middle East. He’s aided by a strong screenplay by William Monaghan (who wrote The Departed) which ties everything together tightly.
Ridley Scott has created a cracking film with Body of Lies. The, sometimes confusing, twists in the film add extra depth which I loved. And the production goes like clockwork, delivering a sheen of excellent at every turn. Well worth seeing.