Monday, October 13, 2008

Body of Lies

STEVE - Leonardo Dicaprio and Russell Crowe star in the latest film from Director Ridley Scott. Body of Lies is a spy film set in the middle of the Iraq War. DiCaprio plays Agent Ferris, a solo on the ground CIA spy who tries to stop terrorism single handedly, while Crowe plays as Ferris’s ever watchful boss Ed Hoffman, who is always observing from the sky.

Real locations and sets serve the mise-en-scene in creating Ridley Scott’s dirty and depressing modern day Middle East. The cinematography aids in creating a stylized and fast paced film that unfortunately becomes sluggish due to a creative but Hollywood contaminated plot.

I recall talking to a friend about the overall plot after viewing the film. There where many sideplots and subplots and loveplots and subparplots. And the main plot (for which the title is named) becomes sandwiched between all these other plots and ultimately is left with itty-bitty-little space to breath. I believe when attempting to describe how the main plot was executed the word my friend used was, (insert high pitch voice) “Bloop!” And I think that pretty much sums it up.

Body of Lies isn’t anything special. Good acting and decent cinematography regrettably doesn’t make up for a poor plot(s) that could have been salvaged into something superior. It’s an ordinary, middle-of-the-road, run of the mill film that leaves you with nothing more than a few, fun, distracting hours. The movie attempts to send a message, but it ultimately was lost. After watching I just kinda felt like… well… I’ve had better.


DAN - Ridley Scott’s latest film is an espionage thriller set chiefly in Jordan. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a CIA operative with a plan to infiltrate a terrorist organization, and Russell Crowe acts as his boss at Langley.

There’s not much more to it. This film follows the recent trend of terrorist-related movies set in the Middle East (Syriana, The Kingdom). Throughout most of the movie, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d seen it before. I wanted something new, but this felt like a rehash.

Near the end of the movie, Crowe’s character says, “Ain’t nobody likes the Middle East, buddy. There’s nothing here to like.” As far as films go, I tend to agree. I’m bored by the deserts, worn buildings, and warfare.

I didn’t have an emotional investment in any of the characters, and I rarely felt that they were in danger. There’s a romantic subplot that develops halfway through the film, and it seemed out of place.

I was bothered by a couple of things that should have been irrelevant, but they caught my eye. Most of them aren’t worth mentioning, but here’s one example. Ever since I saw the trailers for this movie, I’ve been annoyed by the characters’ hair. I know it should be trivial, but there’s no reason to dye DiCaprio’s hair pitch black (including his goatee). And Crowe’s hair doesn’t need to be grey and spiky. It was noticeably fake and distracting.

I was surprised to see Mark Strong as a Jordanian character, but he pulled it off. Strong has played supporting characters in several notable movies, such as Sunshine, Stardust, and a few Guy Ritchie films. Sure enough, his character in this movie has awkward grey streaks in his unnaturally black hair.

Even with all of my complaints, Body of Lies is a decent movie. It’s just not very inventive. I want more from the likes of Ridley Scott.

No comments: