Body of Lies

Year: 2008
Production Co: Scott Free
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Ridley Scott
Producer: Ridley Scott
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Vince Colosimo

How could a Ridley Scott movie be a flop? Because it's not very good, that's why. Leo takes on another gritty grown up role where he grows scraggly facial hair, scowls and swears a lot so we're not reminded of how he looks just like a little boy, and Rusty puts on a grey wig, a fake paunch and phones in his performance (literally) by spending all but about two scenes walking around talking on a mobile.

Scott's gone the Blood Diamond route, trying to make an entertaining thriller with a strong social message. The thriller aspect of it is as effective as anything else he's done, but the message is several years too late and lazy (the Middle East is a stinking hotbed of skittish rats intent on slaughtering westerners, all apart from the chick, who you know you can trust just because she's so adorable).

And while he has enough producer's clout to wield some impressive sets, locations and set pieces, something about this movie just feels lazy, almost everyone doing a cheap knock-off of their own (better) work.

I say almost everyone because Di Caprio – as always – takes it the most seriously and gives it his absolute all. He plays a CIA spook on the ground in Iraq, developing and working moles and contacts to root out a new terrorist cell that's started up, its shadowy leader with a taste for the theatrical as well as a callous disregard for white Americans.

Played at every step by his casual and clinical home-base handler (Crowe), the hero often has nowhere to turn and nobody to trust, his alliance with the Jordanian secret service head thwarted every time he gains the man's trust.

The pop culture hook of the movie is the unfortunate western business people and spies who get found out, dragged in front of cameras to be beheaded or butchered and sprayed all over YouTube, so you know the hero's going to end up in a dingy room with a video camera and tripod, the Bond-like Arab villain twirling his moustahce and saying 'finally I have you, bwa ha ha ha'.

But it's Hollywood, so the marine cavalry bursts in at the last possible second, throwing what little credibility the social comment aspect of the movie had down the gurgler.

It's a lot like Spielberg's War of the Worlds , representing a great director between projects with a few spare tens of millions, an entire industry as his beck and call and an itch to scratch.

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