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
Written by Necmi Cavli
Performed by Oojami
Courtesy of Mac3 Artists, Inc. See more »
The lack of tight focus means the plot slows everything down and wastes its main assets
The names on the poster will have done it for many potential viewers. The trailer will have done it for others. The calibre of the director may even have been the reason for some other sections of the audience but whatever the reasons this film was always going to be a big solid money-maker almost regardless of the actual product quality. The trailer informs us that the film has action, big male stars, plenty of tough dialogue and presumably a good pace to the telling. But then, since when we can we really trust trailers? Body of Lies starts well though and opens up operating at the level of the trailer but sadly it soon loses its way, gets bogged down in plot but doesn't manage to engage the audience or produce the tension it needs to. To be blunt, the film is far too long to sustain itself and ends up feeling surprisingly dull.
It isn't just the fault of the plot because on the face of it the whole thing is topical, full of danger, conflict, game playing and politics. The problem is with the delivery because it gets itself tied up with the complexities of the plot and, in attempting to make sure the audience are following, it slows the action down and makes the film feel a lot heavier than it should do. The film really needed to make more of the three central characters of Ferris, Hoffman and Hani; OK so they are the main players but to easily grip the film needed to have the wider plot but ultimately boil the conflict down to scenes between these men which summarise the politics and risk. It does attempt to do this but it cannot deliver it as slickly and efficiently as it needed to, rather sucking the life out of this simple device and making them part of the problem. There are many threads of the film that could be significantly simplified, reduced or just dropped totally and the fact that they remain in the film is again another layer of sluggishness added to the mix. The romance is the most obvious of these it never rings true for any of the characters, is a clumsy way to set up later action and to somehow make the character of Ferris seem more human but yet it takes up a lot of time at a point where the film needs to be picking up the pace and tightening the focus. Scott plays with technology and does well with the action sequences but he cannot make this thing brisk or gripping.
The stars certainly do what is required of them; that this is not as much as the film requires is not their fault. DiCaprio may never look like he fits in but his performance is engaging and he does a lot to inject energy and pace that his material doesn't provide. Crowe doesn't seem to know what to do with his character and just drifts around without ever producing much of interest. He and DiCaprio produce no sparks or chemistry but in fairness this may be to do with how much of their time is spent talking over the phone and not in person. Strong does very well with his tough character and he does manage to make his thread all about him not in a bad way, but in an accessible way. He is a really dark presence in the film and easily stands up as being better than the two banner stars. The support cast all do what is required of them but one must feel sorry for Farahani who has a thankless task of making her thread work when few in the audience will care.
Body of Lies is a messy affair that fails to deliver a tight, focused plot that makes the most of the male trio of stars it has access to. The more it does, the slower it all gets and the less I cared. It just about has enough bangs and plot about it to keep me interested but it is far from being a good film and gradually became tedious and something distracting rather than engaging.
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