Review: Body of Lies

Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies is mostly blind to the possibility of humour, so it should probably be humourlessly reviewed.

Title Body of Lies III
Director Ridley Scott
Starring Leonardo Di Caprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong
Running Time 128 minutes

Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies is mostly blind to the possibility of humour, so it should probably be humourlessly reviewed.

This is not a problem, except that it also lacks flashy special effects to be awed by.
We must take it, therefore, for what it presents itself as, a serious political thriller, giving us the low-down on political
killing in the present day.

Ridley Scott really should know better,
but the man who brought us Blade Runner and Gladiator seems stuck in a career lull, and this by-the-numbers thriller isn’t going to get him out of it.

Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a C.I.A. operative hunting down terrorists
that have crossed the border from Iraq into Iran and are responsible for a bombing in “Sheffield, England”.
He has ideas of his own about how the operation should be managed, and is often
put in his place by his boss Hoffman, played by Russell Crowe. Who are the good guys, who are the bad? Wouldn’t you like to know?

Actually, I would. Ridley Scott takes pride in rubbing our nose in the fact that, as Russell Crowe says a number of times, “There are no innocents in this game.”

This is a kind of high-minded cynicism
that laughs pitifully at our attempts to identify with something good in this awful world.
In place of identification and sympathy,
we have action scenes. In the end, the guy we are meant to identify with — somewhat at least — turns his back on the whole business, but not without doing a lot of damage on the way.

In fact the film isn’t as impassive as all that: when the less-bad-guys torture the more-bad-guys, it’s presented as a bit of bathhouse hi-jinks. When the least-bad guy gets tortured, it’s hell. Much like this movie.
The film aptly demonstrates what’s wrong with relying only on the thrill of the chase. It chews up the air miles going from the Iraqi outback to Qatar to Turkey
to Washington D.C. to Jordan.
I suppose you can only have so many bombings in one place, but when Leonardo
DiCaprio says, in a typical piece of “no bullshit” bullshit, “I’ve had it with local colour,” I disagreed. Bond would have taken in a casino.
In this film, there is no world, just locations.

And DiCaprio doesn’t get very far with the girl he likes; all that jetlag I suppose.
Poor Leo really does need our sympathy.
For most of us he’ll always be sensitive
Jack Dawson in Titanic, or a lovestruck
Romeo, or the oh-so-sensitive Toby Wolff in This Boy’s Life.
I thought his role in Catch Me If You Can was exactly the kind of classy thing he should be doing. There is no place for him in the world of the “gruff stuff” of Body of Lies.

Russell Crowe gets uneasy laughs for his lack of work-life balance: “never have kids” he says, and means it, as he orders another war crime on the phone while attending his daughter’s football match.
If that doesn’t sound too funny, it’s because it isn’t. Rory O’Connor