Ridley Scot is certainly seen taking risks with high-spec Hollywood cast to allow him a dive into this narrative called ‘Body of Lies’. Right from the start we have, Roger Ferris (Leonardo Di Caprio), the field guy and Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), the desk-bound boss acting like a spider in the center of the CIA’s Langley base. The movie drives directly into a topical current-dated thriller where Roger Ferris is going after an Osama Bin Laden clone, Al-Saleem (Alon Aboutboul). To do this, Ferris must partner with Hani Pasha (Mark Strong), the head of Jordanian Intelligence, whose single directive is ‘Do not lie to me’. Soon, our very stylish hero, Ferris, finds himself trapped between the very manipulative orders of both Hani & Hoffmann.
By the time the movie goes into its second hour you will find yourself globe-trotting across half a dozen countries including United States, England, Holland, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria. Unlike James Bond, there is nothing suave or dignified in the way our spies travel or interact with one another. They do not take their Martinis shaken or stirred. They are the types who gulp their vodkas in one mouthful and get the job done. Apart from one scene levity and light romance, Ridley Scott pretty much maintains the tone of seriousness. It is nice to see satellite imagery being used to present a wide-angled bird’s eye view of the plot.
The plot is actually quite simple where Ferris will convince Hoffmann and Hani to get Al-Saleem into the net. The manner in which their individual styles flesh out the characters is where the actual beauty lies. Hani’s outspokenness, Ferris’ fearlessness and Hoffmann’s sleazy obnoxious nature certainly are strong performances; they might not line them up for awards though. Here is a movie that actually captures the spoken word to a level where you might miss the point if you went to take a leak.
In essence, the movie has a deceptively simple theme that is italicized by an opening quote by W.H.Auden: “Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return.”