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Body of Lies

The Art of Deception

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Oscar season is officially upon us with the release of Ridley Scott’s latest effort, Body of Lies. This intense spy thriller is headed by two box office heavyweights, Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. DiCaprio plays top CIA operative Roger Ferris who works in the most dangerous terrorist hotbeds in the world. Pulling his strings back home is Ed Hoffman (Crowe) whose motives and methodology put his top operative in hot water time and again. Trust is a double edged sword in this world where being on the wrong edge can easily put you in a body bag.

Body of Lies starts off in a disturbingly compelling fashion. A bombing in Manchester by terrorists underscores in no uncertain terms the world we’re living in. Thrust into this nucleus of terror is Roger Ferris who spends most of his waking and non-waking hours (there are few) in Samarra, Iraq. Ferris is a ruthless idealist who is consumed with the goal of preventing terrorist acts such as what transpired in Manchester. Despite the Sisyphean nature of his existence, Ferris soldiers on.

Ferris could be the kind of character challenging to identify with for an audience. He’s seemingly one dimensional in his pursuit of eradicating terrorism. He’s divorced, hobbyless, and not exactly the warmest guy around. But DiCaprio manages to bring a humanity to Ferris that enables you to connect with him. Despite the pain, suffering, and death he’s surrounded by Ferris still cares for people and clings to a waning optimism for the future. It’s a complex performance that DiCaprio handles well.

Seemingly devoid of any real humanity is Ferris’s puppet master, Ed Hoffman. In a bit of a departure, Russell Crowe plays a genuinely unlikable guy who could really care less who dies (including his own man) in his efforts to staunch terrorism. Providing orders to Ferris via remote in the comforts of his suburban home, Hoffman has the luxury of not caring. He doesn’t see the bloodshed on a daily basis (if ever). Fat and detached, Crowe turns in a performance that nearly equals DiCaprio’s.

Director Ridley Scott’s able hand was the best choice for directing Body of Lies given the stellar job he did on Black Hawk Down. Scott puts the viewer uncomfortably close to the frontline of the war on terror. We experience the carnage and death in a jarringly intimate fashion. Scott does a fantastic job of bringing to life a world that many have (mercifully) never seen or experienced.

Body of Lies is a solid film from top to bottom and is arguably one of the best films of the year. DiCaprio and Crowe are at the top of their game. Scott brings the viewer a disturbingly honest view into the war on terror. Rounding things out is a taut and tight story crafted by screenwriter by William Monahan. Be warned, Body of Lies is not for the squeamish or faint of heart given the amount of violence and bloodshed present in the film.