Body of Lies (R)

Drama 128 October 10, 2008
By Scott Foundas
A new kind of war movie for a new kind of war, Body of Lies is about the War on Terror as it is being waged on the ground, in the air, but most of all in cyberspace. Directed with terrific verve by Ridley Scott from a smart screenplay by William Monahan (The Departed), the movie follows a Samarra-based CIA operative (played by Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his most impressive, grown-up performances) as he trails an elusive, bin Laden–esque terrorist responsible for a massive explosion in Manchester, England. Body of Lies comes carrying all sorts of familiar spy-movie baggage, from its cyclorama of exotic Middle East locations to the inevitable climax (by far the film’s most conventional stretch) in which things suddenly turn personal for our ostensible hero and his grafted-on romantic interest. But its generic attributes (and title) notwithstanding, this may be the sharpest of all the post-9/11 thrillers—and also the most purely entertaining—in the way it maps the vectors and currents of the modern intelligence-gathering game without losing us in a dense narrative thicket. What interests Scott and Monahan most is the flow of strategic information, from Blackberrys to satellites to the 21st-century war rooms where all the world resembles one giant video game. Here, Armageddon is just an e-mail—or a text message—away. Control-alt-delete: You’re dead.
Ridley Scott Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong, Golshifteh Farahani, Oscar Isaac, Simon McBurney David Ignatius, William Monahan Donald De Line, Ridley Scott Warner Bros. Pictures

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