Body of Lies
- Leonardo DiCaprio and Golshifteh Farahani
This week's movie rental was the 2008 film Body of Lies, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio, about espionage in the Middle East, and is based on the novel of the same name by David Ignatius.
DiCaprio plays a CIA operative looking for a certain terrorist in Jordan, with Crowe playing his handler back at Langley. He asks the head of Jordanian Intelligence for help in his quest, he meets and befriends an Iranian nurse working in Jordan, and eventually he concocts a plan to lure the elusive terrorist out of hiding. All along the way, there are lies being told by him to his Jordanian partner, to his informants, to his boss, to the woman in whom he's interested, and to himself. His lying costs him his self-respect, and of course he's lied to in turn, which nearly costs him his life. I guess this is why the movie begins with lines from W. H. Auden's poem, September 1, 1939, written on the occasion of the outbreak of World War II.: I and the public know What all schoolchildren learn, Those to whom evil is done Do evil in return.
Do I recommend the film? Well, Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Strong (who played the head of Jordanian Intelligence) did really good jobs, and the technical stuff, like spy plane surveillance images, was interesting, but the theme of war, terrorism, and people doing each other wrong, was so grim and ugly that I doubt I'll want to see the film again.
Roger Ebert gave the movie three out of ofur stars, and here's a short blurb about the film from The New Yorker ....
This shrewd and tightly drawn anti-terror thriller, directed by Ridley Scott, suggests that the C.I.A. has all the technical advantages but not enough of the human intelligence to combat Mideast terrorism. The field agent Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is just about the best there is, but his efforts on the ground are often confounded by a higher-up, Hoffman (Russell Crowe), who manages him via cell phone and laptop from the Washington suburbs. Hoffman, an American consumer of advanced technology and vast amounts of food, is too impatient; in the end, he’s dependent on help from the brilliant but secretive head of Jordanian intelligence (the English actor Mark Strong, in a witty performance). The movie has the usual tropes of the genre—surveillance shots from drones, S.U.V.s tearing across the desert, explosions, scenes of torture—but Scott manages the space and timing better than most thriller directors. William Monahan adapted David Ignatius’s novel. Shot in Morocco.