When you see the chief of CIA’s Near East division Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) taking phone calls from his top agent in the field Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) on a dangerous mission in the Middle East while simultaneously helping his young son pee straight into the bowl or watching his young daughter throw a ball in some kind of stupid Little League like game, you know Body of Lies is nonsense.
Hello, did someone say Bollywood has the exclusive monopoly over nonsense?
It’s almost as if Body of Lies director Ridley Scott is treating the whole Middle East terrorism thing as well as the audience in a too-cavalier fashion.
Then there’s the seen-that-all-before air about the whole movie.
What’s really new in Body of Lies that we haven’t seen in movies like Kingdom (Jamie Foxx), Rendition and others of its ilk before.
Based on the book of the same name by David Ignatius, Body of Lies released in American theatres today.
The book is infinitely better and more nuanced than the movie, which never touches the high watermark even once.
There’s an Islamic terrorist mastermind out there organizing bombings in Europe – in Manchester and Amsterdam for starters.
If it’s European cities today, surely it will be the malls of America tomorrow. Such is the thinking in the U.S. and so the CIA wants to stop this terrorist mastermind.
And the U.S. spooks go about their task in Body of Lies in their usual amateurish, disrespectful of local practices, impatient, boorish, bureaucratic and double-dealing way.
Again, what’s new?
The CIA has been depicted as a maladroit, clumsy and bureaucratic outfit hijacked by renegades in a gazillion movies.
Neither Leonardo DiCaprio nor Rusell Crowe come to life dramatically in Body of Lies.
But you don’t have the same low expectation from Crowe or DiCaprio that you have from Akshay Kumar or Vijay.
When DiCaprio yells at the low-level terrorist Nizar toward the beginning of the movie – Cut the bullshit, give me some information – you are not sure whether to feel disappointed with the clumsy acting or the clumsier screenplay.
We were not impressed with the final confrontation between DiCaprio’s character and the terrorist mastermind either though the bloody violence livened up things a bit.
As for Russell Crowe, who had to put on a lot of weight for the role, his performance was so disappointing that you had to pinch yourself to be reminded of his Oscar a few years back. Most of his dialogs seemed so contrived that they failed to register any impact or seemed plain awkward.
The romantic angle goes nowhere in the movie.
In the book the woman is an aid worker Alice helping in the Palestinian refugee camps but in the movie she’s an Iranian nurse Ayesha (Golshifteh Farahani) who Ferris meets when getting his anti-rabies injection after a nasty encounter with some diseased dogs.
If there are any silver linings in Body of Lies, it’s British actor Mark Strong’s strong performance as Hani Pasha, the Jordanian intelligence chief. The interesting thing about good acting is that it stands out even in a mediocre movie, whether in Hollywood, Bollywood or Kollywood.
One scene that was handled well was when DiCaprio’s character is abducted from the desert by the bad guys who arrive in a convoy, throw up a lot of dust to hide the activity from the unmanned aircraft flying overhead and disappear in different directions.
Beyond such small crumbs, Body of Lies offers little by way of entertainment.
Get hold of the book Body of Lies (most libraries in the U.S. have it) and curl up on a couch and we promise you’ll have a better time than watching the movie.