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Body of Lies (DVD, 2009, Full Frame) Reviews
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Body of Lies (DVD, 2009, Full Frame)

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BODY OF LIES A Story Ripped From Today's Headlines.

Jan 31, 2010
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Mark Strong as the suave Hani. Crowe as the despicable Hoffman. The Story.

Cons:Ferris is a touch too James Bond.

The Bottom Line: Realistic look at use of Assets and how it resembles tissues.  A grim and gritty tale marred only slightly by Ferris' larger than life abilities.


Body of Lies (2008) Directed by Ridley Scott

Nizar: I have a PHD and they want me to blow myself up!
Roger Ferris: PHD in what? Chemistry? What do you know about radiological...
Nizar: Linguistics! I speak 5 languages. Nobody should say martyr to me. Nobody!
Roger Ferris: You are a rare and delicate flower!

The world of spies is infinitely fascinating to movie goers.  Like private detectives, there is a totally unrealistic romanticism surrounding spies; most likely created by the movies.

Here is a story that comes half way back home to reality.  Our hero Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is not an invincible super sleuth like James Bond or Jason Bourne.  But he is a heck of a man.

Ferris finds an asset, and is ready to milk him.  The terrified man is a member of the group, but they are talking about him performing a martyrdom mission.  He does not want to die, and is willing to sell out the terrorists in exchange for asylum in America.  But Ferris' boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) thinks this lemon has been juiced, and decides it will be more valuable to see who comes to kill him.  This is a very important little sequence, because it shows us several things.  One, how ruthless the El Saleem terrorists are, how obedient Ferris is, and how much he hates it, and what a complete and utter self-righteous bastard Hoffman is.

Ferris' further adventures lead him to Jordan, where a possible El Saleem safehouse has been located.  Ferris is made Bureau chief.  He begins going about things the correct way, including cultivating the head of Jordan's secret service, Hani (Mark Strong).  Cultured, suave, and possessed of razor sharp intellect, Hani detects none of the ugly American arrogance so common to our operatives.  They build a great working relationship.  Together, they develop an asset place in El Saleem.

Enter Ed Hoffman again.  He wants the brand new asset for something that he won't tell them about.  Hani says no.  Hoffman tries to grift him anyway, failing to nab him, and screwing up everyone's work.  It is a classic Ugly American "We are always right" moment and it hurts everything Ferris has built with Hani.

But the sheer duplicity of it all gives Ferris an idea; they are going to build a fake terrorist organization and smoke El Saleem out by professional jealousy.  He selects his target, an innocent businessman whose clients are terrorist connected.  Then he builds evidence, and starts moving money around, knowing it will be traced.  Then an attack is planned, and perpetrated, on American property, and the Brotherhood of Awareness takes the credit.  The question is will it flush El Saleem out of hiding?  And if it does, what else will it spawn?

Body of Lies is about deception, duplicity, and not letting one hand know what the other is doing. The worst part of the whole affair is the remarkable similarities between both sides.  El Saleem talks kids into blowing themselves up for the promise of 72 virgins in paradise.  Hoffman and the CIA develop "Assets" and use them, and when they are done with them, cut them loose to blow in the wind.  Their zephyr ride is never long....  Really, where is the difference?

There are some wonderfully realistic touches.  A medic treats Ferris after a bomb blast:
Ferris:  What is that? (Referring to something white extracted from his wound.)
Medic: Bone fragment.  Not yours.

On the other hand, Ferris survives drive by shootings, bombings, car crashes, and torture, only to be rescued in the nick of time.  I am sorry, if nothing else he would be so stove up he could not move at more than a slow hobble for weeks.  And there is a girl.  Of course there is a girl.  And while she is no Bond girl with a double entendre names, Aisha (Golshifteh Farahani) gets him in trouble.
All in all, it is a great suspense thriller.  Realer would have been better.

This review is Lean-N-Mean at 666 words.


Recommend this product? Yes


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