Twenty-something Richard travels to Thailand and finds himself in possession of a strange map. Rumours state that it leads to a solitary beach paradise, a tropical bliss - excited and intrigued, he sets out to find it.
Roger Ferris is a CIA operative in the Middle East; Ed Hoffman is his control at Langley. Cynicism is everywhere. In Amman, Roger works with Hani Salaam, Jordan's head of security, whose only dictum is "Don't lie to me." The Americans are in pursuit of a cleric who leads a group placing bombs all over Europe. When Hani rebukes Ed's demand that Jordan allow the Americans to use one of Jordan's double agents, Roger and Ed hatch a plan to bring the cleric to them. The plan is complicated by its being a secret from Hani and by Roger's attraction to a local nurse. Satellites and cell phones, bodies and lies: modern warfare. Written by
Films involving 'current events'--particularly those relating to anything happening in the Middle East and Terrorism--tend to be soaked in the writers', producers' and director's politics, which usually end up very much in-your-face and spoil the film, because you suddenly lose the story and drown in the preaching and proselytizing.
Ridley Scott, who has already addressed the West-East/Christianity-Islam issue in a previous film, 'Kingdom of Heaven', this time bit the bullet (instead of the sword) and continued KoH's story about 1000 years later. 'Body of Lies' is very much a Ridley Scott movie and this translates into the film's politics as well. Thing is, you can't leave politics out of a political movie; and so what do you do? Well, here's a newsflash for the poli-preachers on all sides: it's possible to have it all, and just watch Ridley Scott do it. Just like KoH, it's all about even-handedness and realizing that (1) every side in a conflict has a point of view, which, to itself, is perfectly valid; and (2) every side has people you'd probably like and some you really wouldn't, (3) the way to peace lies with understanding (1) and (2); and not with having just one point of view, no matter how righteous it may appear. Both, Islamophobes and Islamophiles--or those on the extremes of any aspect of the political spectrum--will probably find ample elements to dislike about this film. Others of a more moderate and even-handed disposition will find much to like and appreciate.
All of this, rather profound, stuff is wrapped up in a gritty Ridley Scott production and direction, that keeps your full attention for its full 2+ hours. Leonardo DiCaprio has really grown up and cast off his annoying persona, which was so prominent in just about all his movies; until 'Blood Diamond' came along. Russell Crowe is basically a secondary character, eclipsed almost completely by DiCaprio and Mark Strong. The latter has come a long way since I first saw him in the BBC production of Jane Austen's 'Emma'. The gentle and understated romance element provided by Golshifteh Farahani as 'Aisha' provided a nice contrast to the testosterone-soaked male world in which this drama plays out.
The movie confirms what I've known for a long time: Ridley Scott apparently can do no wrong.
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