Thursday, February 19, 2009

Body of Lies

Ridley Scott rarely takes a step out of line in "Body of Lies" (which is actually a fine and fitting title, Owen Gleiberman). There are so many places he could go wrong, and he avoids many of those pitfalls. To tell you the truth, this is a direly underrated spy flick, and it definitely deserves more attention that it got. It is not one of the year's best films, but it's actually very good at points. Of course, some cliches come with the terrorist/spy/CIA genre that don't go under the radar. But I think Scott does some of his best, and he should get a little recognition. Leonardo DiCaprio continues to prove himself to me as a good actor, especially here as Roger Ferris, a CIA field agent whose entire life is spent on location in Middle Eastern countries. His superior, Ed Hoffman, is an inept, family-centered, overweight head, played by the great Russell Crowe (who turns in a very good performance a year now). Over the course of the film, the relationship between these two is severed even worse than before, since Hoffman is selfish and takes over every operation. We all know that Hoffman doesn't care anything much about Ferris, but he tries to conceal it. Anyways, at the moment, the two are working round the clock to stop various bubblings from happening, etc. One main support is the honesty-savvy , strong-armed Hani (Mark Strong, who was pretty mediocre in "RocknRolla" but shows somewhat of an acting presence here). There are many ways the plot could have gone, but Scott stayed somewhat on target and stepped right where he could have gone for the obvious clincher. Another way is in the choice of Golshifteh Farahani as the love interest and medic Aisha, since Farahani we see is a charming, exuberant actress who holds her own with DiCaprio. Scott has a good eye. The film does not compare with his superb earlier work ("Matchstick Men," "Alien," "Blade Runner"), but seriously, were we expecting that? His dive into the genre of the political thriller turns out very well. Scott adds a great touch to this film, as do DiCaprio, Farahani, and most importantly, Crowe. Though at times somewhat of a textbook, formula thriller, it's really not. Although often compared to "Syriana," again it is not. It's a film about how field agents operate, and how the men at the desks mess them up. B

No comments: