The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Friday, February 20, 2009

Body of Lies

Ever since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the movie industry has tried to figure out how to deal with the conflicts all over the Middle East. The common link so far? No one seems to know exactly how to present the stories. That's not completely true, maybe people just aren't interested in seeing movies about U.S. involvement in Iraq and the Middle East when memories of 9/11 are still very fresh in people's minds.

Looking at the movies that take place in/around Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries, it's a shame that several strong movies have slipped through the cracks. Ridley Scott's "Body of Lies" grossed under $40 million at the box office, but if it had been released in the late 90s, we'd be talking about a huge blockbuster. It's a timely movie detailing the CIA's efforts to smoke out and ultimately take down a terror cell planning and executing attacks all over Europe and the U.S.

Showing how technology affects what CIA agents do out in the field, the story is told through the perspective of field agent Roger Ferris, an up and coming operative assigned to find Al-Saleem, the leader of a terrorist cell that's promised to take the fight to the attackers. Ferris becomes more and more disillusioned with his job as he sees the results, sometimes extremely costly results. As Ferris, Leonardo DiCaprio again proves why he's one of the best actors of his generation. Ferris knows what's he doing, but even as a young agent, there's a weariness to him that DiCaprio brings out.

Ferris' supervisor is Ed Hoffman, a middle-aged man who keeps in constant contact with his agents by cell phone. He often talks to Ferris as he does everyday things, taking the kids to school, a soccer game, that type of stuff. At the same time, Hoffman has access to unlimited technology that allows him to track Ferris and make sure he's all right. Russell Crowe seems to be really enjoying himself in a somewhat smaller role than usual, but one that gives him chances for snappy one-liners as he verbally goes toe-to-toe with Ferris. Hoffman even says at some point "10 years ago I could have kicked your ass." He's no longer a field agent, but he's got more than enough experience to lead his division.

There weren't as many twists and turns as I thought there would be in Body. The story's pretty straightforward; the CIA trying to find and eliminate a new, deadly terrorist cell. What's interesting is how they go about accomplishing this. I won't reveal it here just because I don't want to give it away. Some good action here too in short bursts, including an early attack on a safe house by Ferris and his local source.

Director Scott doesn't disappoint here in his first movie since American Gangster. With "Departed" screenwriter William Monahan, it'd be hard to miss here. Strong performances from the two leads, a timely spy thriller that slipped through the cracks in theaters last fall, Body of Lies deserves better.

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