Body of Lies Review
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Whenever director Ridley Scott announces a new movie, I end up spending months eagerly anticipating its release. Sure, Scott has definitely had his misses (Hannibal, anyone?). But I can easily overlook those, focusing more on his hits—movies like Gladiator and, more recently, 2007’s American Gangster. After all, when Ridley Scott is good, he’s usually really good. With his latest, Body of Lies, however, he’s just pretty good.

Body of Lies stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Roger Ferris, a young, ladder-climbing CIA agent who’s given up everything (including his marriage) to track down terrorists in the Middle East. Ferris works undercover, searching for clues that will point him to terrorist leader Al-Saleem (Alon Aboutboul). Meanwhile, back at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Ferris’s boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), watches his every move on a huge screen via satellite, controlling it all in his very own super-secret game of chess.

When Ferris uncovers information about a terrorist safe house in Jordan, he looks to Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), the head of Jordanian intelligence, for help. But he soon finds himself in the middle of a power struggle between Hani and Hoffman, not knowing if he can trust either one.

Much like Scott’s American Gangster, Body of Lies is a thinking man’s thriller, filled with complex schemes and strategies to hold your attention. In fact, if you’re not paying close attention, you may have to scramble to keep up from time to time—to try to figure out who’s doing what to whom. Fortunately, though, it’s not so involved that you’ll spend most of the film scratching your head in confusion, hopelessly lost in a sea of plots and subplots and deception.

While Body of Lies is definitely better than the average spy thriller, however, there’s not much here to make it really stand out. The themes of trust and deception aren’t exactly original. In fact, lately, it seems as though movies have been saturated with those same themes. The characters, too—though well played—aren’t particularly noteworthy. And while there are still a few surprises along the way, there are also a handful of spy-movie clichés.

Granted, the solid cast alone still makes the film worth watching—and the striking contract between DiCaprio’s and Crowe’s characters (one facing the dangers in the field, the other making earth-shattering decisions from the sidelines of his kid’s soccer game) definitely adds interest. But despite all that—not to mention Scott’s skillful directing—the story is simply too familiar to make it a masterpiece.

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