Monday, October 13, 2008

REVIEW: Body of Lies

Body of Lies

Year: 2008
Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani, Vince Colosimo
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated R

When I first saw the trailer for Ridley Scott's Body of Lies a couple months earlier, I honestly wasn't that impressed. While the trailer had its cool moments, it just felt like another espionage thriller that has been done many times before. Still, since it was Ridley Scott that was directing this upcoming thriller, I was somewhat interested in seeing it. I happened to enjoy his last movie "American Gangster" and several other films from him. I wasn't pumped to see it in theaters because I could have easily held off for the DVD release, but a couple of my friends wanted to see it so I caved.

Plot Outline:
Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an operative trying to gather Intel on Islamic terrorist cells to get to the head: Al- Saleem (Alon Abutbul). He works closely with local contacts wherever he goes, only to find that his boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) finds them useful, but disposable. After losing such a friend in Iraq, Ferris travels to Jordan to head up the U.S. Intelligence operations there. In Jordan he befriends Hani (Mark Strong), the head of Jordanian Intelligence, who places more value on patience and trust than speed and technology.

The story is based on the novel "Body of Lies" by David Ignatius. Having not read the novel, I cant compare whats new or whats been left out of the film. The film starts off pretty interesting with a building exploding like no tomorrow. From than on, we are put in the shoes of Roger Ferris who is tracking an Islamic terrorist who is supposedly linked to some bombings. The problem with Body of Lies is within its plot. The screenplay was written by William Monahan who also wrote the engaging Oscar winning 2006 hit film "The Departed". His script for the film is simply broken and at times, complex. It isn't easy to take in and will leave most audiences somewhat lost. The film also doesn't consist of much action scenes that will keep the audience tuned in. Their are a few, but hardly enough. Body of Lies also doesn't bring anything new to this tired genre and theirs nothing here that we haven't seen before in films including Spy Game which was directed by Scott's brother Tony. With all this said, Body of Lies is still a good movie. The film is shot and directed very nicely by Scott. The characters are interesting enough to watch and learn from especially when their played by people who know how to give a performance. Just like most of Scott's films, we also get some awesome explosions that are very cool and very well made.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays as Roger Ferris and he does a great job in his role. DiCaprio is honestly one of Hollywood's most talented actors and his work in his films show this. He gives a very believable performance as Ferris and one that I simply enjoyed. Russell Crowe plays as Ed Hoffman and hes more of a supporting role this time around. He gives a pretty good performance as Hoffman, but I'm not so sure he was the ideal person for this role. He pulls off the serious family man attitude, but I wasn't fond of him just feeding DiCaprio's character through the telephone almost 90% of the time. Mark Strong plays as Hani and he gives a great performance. I thought his character was interesting and very believable along DiCaprio. Golshifteh Farahani plays as Aisha and I thought she was pretty good. I have never seen or heard of her, but I thought she gave a pretty good performance especially for her first big budget film. We also have Vince Colosimo playing as Skip. I also haven't seen or heard of him before, but I thought he was entertaining in this film.

The visual look of Body of Lies is great. Director Ridley Scott shot this film with less film grain in mind. As a result, Body of Lies doesn't consist of much film grain compared to Scott's last film, "American Gangster". Their are a few scenes that do have some film grain, but these are mostly during the night scenes and I'm sure it was done intentionally to make it seem more real. Colors are somewhat vibrant due to the nature of the location they filmed the movie at. They don't necessarily pop from the screen, but their still nicely colorful. Black levels are pretty solid, but the night scenes can look somewhat flat. Flesh tones are mostly accurate and have that warm feeling to them. Detail is surprisingly strong and clear. Close up shots on Leo's face show alot of clarity and small pores. Their are a few special effect scenes, but even these look great.

The soundtrack in Body of Lies is fairly good. The film's score is composed by Marc Streitenfeld who also scored some of Scott's previous films such as A Good Year and American Gangster. I thought he did a good job with the score for the film. It sounded right and just went with the flow of the film. The film's score is also nicely used and spread out pretty widely. Were also treated to other music in the film that is mostly played during the credits. Body of Lies features a bombastic bass mix. Judging by the trailers, I had no doubt this film would deliver in the bass department. Every little gun shot and fierce explosions transitioned very well with the film's bass. I wouldn't go out and say its definitely reference material, but it damn well comes close.

Body of Lies is a good film that I fairly enjoyed. The story doesn't do anything new to separate itself from many other clones in the same genre and its plot can be somewhat complex at times simply because of its many layers to its story. While I thought the story wasn't as great as I was expecting it to be, I still thought it had some cool moments that were entertaining. The cast is great with many of them giving out good performances that are very enjoyable to sit back and watch. The visual look of the film is simply great with the film featuring some bold colors and strong detail all around. The soundtrack is engaging and well used through out the film. It also features a kick ass bass that easily handles some of the films cool explosions. I cant say I loved this film, but I did fairly enjoy it enough to recommend it.

Grade: B-


micky said...

good review farzan, just saw this yesterday and i agree. love leo in the film though

Jaccstev said...

I can say that this is probably the best in the political thriller genre for now. I've enjoyed both DiCaprio and Crowe's acting in this film, Mark Strong also delivered his best performances.

Stace said...

I really thought it would do better at the box office.

Mitch Harper said...

I thought the story was too complex for it's own good. It just had too much and I didn't like how Crowe and DiCaprio were never really in the same scenes together. Let's hype up a film with these two and then come to find out they aren't really in this thing together. It's okay, but nothing special to set it apart from the Middle East/Terrorist film genre as you mentioned.

Angel said...

This movie is like Departed. It has a lot of cellphone scenes. I love how the actors played their characters. Of course Leo is good. I watched this movie yesterday in HD quality @ I wasn't able to watch it on movie house when it came out. :(

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Andie said...

it's a great movie.. besides Leonardo di Caprio was Hot..
i like his eyes. hehe

Andie said...

Leo was hot there... hehehe
i love him so much.. he's got naughty eyes