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Body of Lies (2008)

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A CIA agent on the ground in Jordan hunts down a powerful terrorist leader while being caught between the unclear intentions of his American supervisors and Jordan Intelligence.


Ridley Scott


William Monahan (screenplay), David Ignatius (novel)
1,674 ( 188)
2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Leonardo DiCaprio ... Roger Ferris
Russell Crowe ... Ed Hoffman
Mark Strong ... Hani
Golshifteh Farahani ... Aisha
Oscar Isaac ... Bassam
Ali Suliman ... Omar Sadiki
Alon Aboutboul ... Al-Saleem
Vince Colosimo ... Skip
Simon McBurney ... Garland
Mehdi Nebbou ... Nizar
Michael Gaston ... Holiday
Kais Nashif ... Mustafa Karami
Jameel Khoury ... Marwan
Lubna Azabal ... Aisha's Sister Cala
Ghali Benlafkih Ghali Benlafkih ... Aisha's Nephew Rowley


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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Trust no one. See more »


Action | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence including some torture, and for language throughout | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Arabic

Release Date:

10 October 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Penetration See more »

Filming Locations:

Amman, Jordan See more »


Box Office


$70,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$12,884,416, 12 October 2008

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

SDDS | DTS | Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


During one Munich scene (actually filmed on a busy urban US street corner), civilian vehicle traffic was stopped only during actual filming. Just before and after filming, the prop street signs (written in German) were in place while the street was still open to traffic. Thus, some unknowing motorists went from seeing typical street signs (which said things like "Central Avenue" or "Washington Street") to reading differently-colored German signs for, say, "Charlottenstraße". See more »


When the cars turn off the desert road when meeting "the man on the bicycle" you hear the tyres squealing despite it being a dirt road. See more »


[first lines]
Title Card: I and the public know what all schoolchildren learn, those to whom evil is done, do evil in return. - W.H. Auden
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Dark Ages
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

High-Quality Espionage Thriller
5 July 2016 | by C22ManSee all my reviews

What is most interesting about Body of Lies is that it manages to rise above the predictability and formula that plagues the vast majority of espionage films. It is post-Bourne wrapped up in a more mature Bond plot with a politically conscious edge. Yet it never feels like it is stealing elements of those, more using them as a launch-pad for its own ideas. Though the film itself is sometimes guilty of falling back into safety, it remains consistently exciting and intently engaging even when those moments occur because of how keenly detailed and acted it is. It makes it standout as a cut above many of its contemporaries.

We follow Roger Ferris, a ground CIA operative who moves throughout the Middle East in an attempt to lure out and capture terrorist Al- Saleem. Of course his practices involve plenty of lies and deceit as he tries to retain the support of the head of the Jordanian Intelligence. Ferris is played by Leonardo DiCaprio who makes an excellent centrepiece for the film. DiCaprio is a great choice for the role, given his superb ability to convey emotion and his delivery making even mundane dialogue seem important. I'm not sure many could have been as appealing as he is here. Ferris grows into a more interesting character as the film progresses. His disillusion with the lies he has to sow and backstabbing from his superiors make for some of the most intriguing moments, whilst providing some welcomed morality that never feels forced.

His superior Hoffman is played terrifically by Russell Crowe, whose weight gain and distinct accent allow him to become the character. Crowe is at his best playing characters like this. Confident, forcefully honest, almost egotistical, yet understanding the importance of the situation. They're traits he always nails. Hoffman appears all-knowing, frequently surveying from the air, keeping constant contact with Ferris as he aids him in setting up a fictional terrorist group to smoke out Al-Saleem. He also clashes with the Jordanian head Hani Salaam, who is convincingly played by Mark Strong, a man who only asks that the CIA don't lie to him, which is something that Ferris finds increasingly difficult to avoid.

The interactions and differences between these three main characters is definitely the film's most interesting aspect. All three have distinct personalities that are well developed, conduct their jobs in very different ways and are portrayed by actors who always convince. The scenes that bring them together are always gripping, Ferris meeting Hoffman in Washington to devise a new plan, Hani questioning how Ferris could lie to him, the three of them discussing their mission. They all share a suspicion of one another that is fascinating to see play out.

There is a romance between Ferris and an Iranian doctor that is nicely played out and expands the characters. It also offers us an interesting look at the perception of a relationship with someone from the West in the Middle East. However, the issue is that it doesn't really fit in with the tone of the film and ends up becoming a plot device later on in the film which makes it feel rather forced. The action scenes and shootouts are always very fluid and exciting to watch. Notably, there is a weight to them that makes the injuries feel painful, these operatives don't just bounce back up like in so many spy flicks. There's a torture scene near the end that is brilliantly intense and really keeps you guessing as to its outcome.

With Ridley Scott at the helm the film is fantastic to look at and his direction is as smooth as it's ever been. In fact I don't think the Middle East has ever looked this vibrant and authentic on screen before. Scott directs the film masterfully. He manages to make the dialogue driven scenes feel just as tense as the action ones. I especially like the use of aerial surveillance, as it gave the film a much wider scope and added to the feeling of always being watched. Scott is saddled with a script that can be jargon heavy, but he's able to make it understandable and technical without dumbing it down or filling it with dialogue that nobody would comprehend. The funny thing is that this is type of film Scott's Brother Tony would usually at home doing, so it's nice to see him try his hand at it and go for a more subtle approach.

Despite its amalgamation of various espionage tropes and some misplaced plot points, Body of Lies is an exceptional genre film. It manages to work as both an exciting action thriller and as a more controlled politically-charged piece. The story is packed with deception and intrigue, just right for this type of film. The main characters are well-rounded and captivating to watch, they guide us through the film and I always wanted to see what their next move was going to be. It is a layered story and it's impressive just how well it is conveyed. Plenty of praise should go to Scott, his three leading men and script writer William Monahan. They have crafted a film that is well- balanced, a vivid portrait of the CIA in the Middle East and makes a number of potentially clichéd aspects feel fresh again.

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