DVD REVIEW: Body of Lies

Body of Lies
Directed by Ridley Scott
(Warner Home Video)

Buy it at Amazon!

Director Ridley Scott adds a uniquely modern twist on the eternal theme of deception and espionage in Body of Lies, the sleeper hit which was recently released on DVD. The film is brilliantly choreographed with an intriguing storyline interweaving a very American CIA official in Langley, V.A. who desires immediate returns despite the cost, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), with the more global and ethical perspective of Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio), a C.I.A. spy on the ground in the Middle East. The character study is excellent especially when the Americans are contrasted against the old world Middle Eastern mentality of Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), a man with similar goals but opposing techniques.

The acting is right on even though DiCaprio sticks out like a kid with a fake beard at times among the natives but he pulls it off by playing on the character’s passion and occasional idealism. Russell Crowe couldn’t have been better as the distracted American (ala the Bush years) trying to get a quick fix while on his Bluetooth at the kids soccer game. The cinematography in the film is breathtaking with beautiful sweeping shots of the desert and Ridley Scott’s characteristic toned visuals. The quickly edited montages of the streets of Iraq and Jordan help give a sense of perspective to the film, making the setting and the inhabitants as important as any other character in the film.

The story is very strong and well written with intricate, unexpected twists that make the film a sigh of relief with so many obvious and predictable storylines in the theaters these days. It’s also great to see a Hollywood big budget film deal with the Middle East in such real and human terms illuminating the biased beliefs and assumptions that many people today project on the region.

The film does have some confusing moments and slight flaws in terms of character motivation at times but in the big picture they dissipate as all the other elements hit their mark so perfectly. The film is a truly enjoyable ride psychologically and emotionally with plenty of action, intense plot, and thrilling moments. It’s a perfect DVD for a night at home (especially if you have HD because the visuals are picturesque) and the 2 hours fly by quicker then you’d ever expect.

Tim Needles

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