Body of Lies - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Body of Lies Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2008
C.I.A. operative Leonardo DiCaprio enlists the help of the Jordanian secret service to locate the leader of a terrorist cell responsible for bombings in Europe. Being a massive fan of Ridley Scott, I always have very high expectations for his films and this was no different. Unfortunately what you get is more James Bond than Syriana, the depth and insight into the political situation in the Middle East sorely lacking, the film underneath being more a straight cold war style espionage thriller. I did like the way it showed the parallel between DiCaprio's handler and the terrorist leader as two sides of the same coin; each arrogant egoists with no understanding of or respect for their adversary or their culture, using their "followers" as disposable pawns in their own little power games. It's certainly very solidly made, with decent performances, quality visuals and an intelligent plot, but as with Vietnam, I think we will have to wait til the conflict has ended before we see any truly worthwhile cinema about the subject, at least from Hollywood.
Super Reviewer
December 29, 2007
Leo is a CIA agent with a conscience, on the ground hunting for terrorists in the Middle East. Russell is his boss who works from Washington DC and monitors the situation by remote satellite. Good intense action thriller. Lots of bombs, gunfire and torture. Not for the faint hearted. Great performances by Leo and Russell. Movie similar to 'Spy Game' in terms of working relationships and terrorist themes.
Super Reviewer
½ January 19, 2013
There's nothing wrong with this standard thriller about a CIA operative in the Middle East going after secret terrorist leaders, it just doesn't stand out is all. There's a standard romance, standard machinations, standard twist at the end. Eh.
Super Reviewer
February 12, 2012
One of Ridley Scott's most underrated movies.
Super Reviewer
½ January 24, 2012
I don't know what to say. It's a good movie. But I just feel I have no personal interest in the story. It's well done and for them. And let's remember everybody...This is Lenny D's big 10-0
Super Reviewer
½ February 12, 2011
Based on a novel, this is a spy thriller about the hunt for a fictional "jihadist" terrorist conducted by the combined efforts of the CIA and Jordanian Intelligence. Roger Ferris is the CIA's main man in the field. Along with his efforts to capture the elusive terrorist mastermind he begins a tentative romantic relationship with a local nurse named Aisha. No matter what he is doing though, he is almost always being observed by a surveillance camera from high above. On the other end of that camera is his superior Ed Hoffman, who, despite his years of experience and guidance, might not be as on the level as he should. Their (mostly Roger's) main contact on the Jordanian side is Hani, the head of Jordanin Intelligence. To make matters interesting (besides the romantic subplot), the various tactics and methods of the three men don't always align, and everyone begins to learn that trust can be just as dangerous as it is important.

Adapted by Oscar winning screenwriter William Monaghan and helmed by Oscar nominated film legend Ridley Scott, this is an old fashioned spy thriller (in plot basics and formula) with a contemporary update and execution (with style, plot specifics, and context). It's engaging, thought provoking, and a fairly solid thriller. That it looks great, has a lot of talent involved, and tries to insert contemporary (and relevant) issues and events into a standard sort of yarn gives it a lot of weight as well.

It's mostly works, but it's not without its issues, mainly being perhaps a tad too contrived and convoluted (mostly with its use of typical genre plot machinations), and not having a good finish to what could have been a potent subplot (the romance). About the first problem: this isn't the most dense or intricately layered film, but still, it seems a bit murky. About the romance: I was worried at first that the thing between Roger and Aisha would just be something shoehorned in there just for the sake of contrast to the rest of the film, and I started to be right, but then the film started to show some growth and development, especially with a scene where Roger vistis Aisha and her sister and gets into a cultural debate. After that though, the film does as I originally expected, and turns the romance into a typical plot device and ceases doing anymore with it, which is a shame because it started off with a nicely established cultural context and buildup.

I did enjoy the cinematography, complete with context specific lighting, gorgeous landscape shots, and in general camera placement, and the film's themes and discussions of various issues, mostly the socio-political-cultural stuff. It's a decent enough yarn, and the performances are pretty decent, especially the three main players (Leonardo DiCaprio as Roger, Russell Crowe as Ed, and Mark Strong (the real scene stealer) as Hani). Despite all that's good though, I think the film could have been better had it been more balanced, a little more straightforward, and perhaps just reworked all over. Had that been done, the film could have had a more satisfying finish (though it's not a complete letdown or failure, just a tad underwhelming). Also, I know there have been great advances in technology, but I find it hard to believe that everyone in this film has excellent cell phone reception at all times.

This is not one of Scott's masterworks, but despite it's flaws, it's not scarred enough to rank as one of his lowest efforts. I'd call it somewhere on the low end of the high side. You should give it a watch though, because it's got a lot to offer, does a lot of stuff fairly well, and provides a decent amount of entertainment.
Super Reviewer
September 11, 2011
There are some big holes in this plot, big enough that not even Leo and Russell can manage to plug them up. But not a horrible way to spend a few hours.
Super Reviewer
December 17, 2008
Maybe it's because the many bad reviews lowered my expectations, but I found this movie entertaining enough. The love story was shoehorned in and unnecessary - does every movie HAVE to have a love story, now? - but otherwise, the plot was solid, and the suspense kept ratcheting up as the film moved along. The conclusion was a little implausible, and the roles didn't demand a lot from these talented actors (though they acquitted themselves well), but a ho-hum outing from Ridley Scott still ranks above some of the crappy imitations out there. Fun, disposable intrigue.
Super Reviewer
½ March 3, 2011
I disagree with other people, this movie had action, a great screenplay, and great performances. The concept wasnt really original, but Ridley Scott just makes it work. I really enjoyed this movie.
Super Reviewer
½ April 12, 2011
Body Of Lies is an intense thrill ride based on David Ignatius's bestseller of the same name. Ridley Scott adapts Ignatius's book with flair and a good idea of the source material and creates a pulse pounding action thriller film. I've always loved espionage action thriller, and Body Of Lies makes the short list of memorable Espionage films. Body Of Lies tells the story of a CIA operative who has uncovered a major Terrorist cell operating out of Jordan, CIA operative Roger Ferries devises a plan to infiltrate the network. Ridley Scott's direction is as usual terrific, and he crafts a terrific film. The cast he has recruited are an impressive bunch of talented actors. Especially the talent here are some of favorite actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe and Mark Strong are the most memorable actors to act in this film. Each of them deliver great performances. Body Of Lies is a brilliant Espionage film with a strong cast, and superb storytelling. The film is never boring or dull, and keeps you engaged in the pulse pounding storyline. Body Of Lies combines fact with fiction in one good story that is one of the best espionage films since The Hunt For Red October. Body Of Lies almost takes the Tom Clancy approach of telling a story, but it strives to be totally different too. Body Of Lies is simply put an awesome film that will definitely appeal to Espionage film fans. Body Of Lies is brilliantly acted and told is the best espionage film since The Bourne Ultimatum.
Super Reviewer
½ October 9, 2008
Whether or not this film about the CIA undercover work in the middle east is realistic or not is hard to say as someone with no further knowledge on the topic. The fact that DiCaprio's work on the secret service front constantly gets compromised by his boss in the US seems a bit too much, though. That makes for a lot of talking, plotting, not trusting anyone, which is somewhat entertaining, sometimes even exciting, but also a tad confusing every once in a while. The acting is top notch of course, especially Mark Strong as Jordanian secret service boss is wonderfully daunting. With a bit more speed and action this film could have been as haunting as The Kingdom. As it is, the film still has some interesting things to say about the conflict, and naturally doesn't see a solution either.
Super Reviewer
½ August 18, 2008
Ridley Scott, decent.
Leonardo DiCaprio, above average, as always.
Russell Crowe, pretty goddamn great and hilarious.

I really liked that movie. It doesn't bring anything new to the genre, but it's still surprising and visually stunning.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2011
Oh Ridley, Ridley, Ridley. Why are you such a wild card with your films? This slightly reminded me of Man on Fire, but in the middle east. I decided to watch this film for Mr. DiCaprio and that is what I got. But I also REALLY loved Russell Crowe. Which doesn't surprise me, but I never really expected to get much of his character besides boring CIA guy. But he surprised me and provided a few little chuckles here and there.
I was entertained, but that's about all. As some other reviews said, and I agree with, it could have been a lot better. Especially with such powerhouse actors at work. They didn't fail Scott, he failed them.
Super Reviewer
November 8, 2010
A great thriller at heart, but at times feels a bit slow. besides the fact that it drags on a bit too long, it is definitely worth checking out. Leonardo DiCaprio and Russel Crowe, as always, pull off great performances, which sometimes saves the movie from being boring. It may be boring at parts, but at least it's interesting. It could have been slightly better than it was, but for what it is, it's a great thriller. Body of Lies is a huge infiltration plot that works perfectly!
Super Reviewer
½ April 6, 2009
An exceptional spy-tale featuring two different personalities who are not always working together when they should be. Leo gives a routine impressive performance in the lead here, and Crowe gives his most restrained one yet. The violence is extremely realistic, especially the slam-bang opening, and the story is compelling and keeps you glued as far as to what is all going on. It's very detailed and intricately put together, so if you miss one minute of dialogue, you're in trouble. If you pay attention, you should love this thriller that is a cut-above the norm.
Super Reviewer
½ September 21, 2010
The plot is interesting and is fun, but there is no character development whatsoever. A forgettable movie with action scenes that are boring. You have absolutely no interest in what happens in the end which is usually a sign of a poorly made movie. Always a good performance from Leo & Crowe.
Super Reviewer
July 19, 2010
The best I can say about this film is that it's not as racist as I thought it was going to be ... until I realized that the good Arab was played by Mark Strong, a Brit. Colonization continues!
All of that said, I do think there is a mild, ignorant attempt to understand and intelligently portray life in the Middle East, and there is an all-too-veiled, too flaccid criticism of Western relations with the Arab world.
Super Reviewer
October 11, 2008
Body of Lies is a tangled CIA thriller that does little to distance itself from the many other movies like this that have been set in the Middle East in recent years. There's a lot of running around and shooting and intelligence-speak, but all of that only adds up to a very average movie.

You'd think that another combination of Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, with Leonardo DiCaprio thrown into the mix, would be a home-run, but none of them bring their A-game to this. Ridley's direction is acceptable, but a distinct step below Blade Runner, Gladiator, or American Gangster. I have a new found respect for DiCaprio after seeing what he can really do in Revolutionary Road, but little of that is on display here. Crowe gives a better performance than DiCaprio, but still nothing particularly memorable.

Both of them were overshadowed by Mark Strong as Hani, the uncertain ally who is Director of Jordanian Intelligence, and Golshifteh Farahani, who plays a beautiful, quiet young woman who gets unwittingly drawn into the world of intelligence gathering and terrorism. The only time I was really interested in what was happening, was when one of them was on screen. Other than that, Body of Lies is just an average movie with an anti-climatic ending. That's not so bad, but I expected more from those involved.
Super Reviewer
July 17, 2008
An intense and hard-boiled thriller. An more in depth and compelling look into the spy game. A stunning, thrilling, exciting and pulse-pounding film that packs sizzling suspense and explosive action. A raw, intriguing and powerful movie. Leonardo DiCaprio and Russel Crowe are brilliant. DiCaprio is top notch once again. Crowe is magnetic. A bold, stylish, remarkable and exhilarating film that packs a wallop. It's Spy Game meets Syriana.
Super Reviewer
November 13, 2008
A hugely ambitious and topical film for Ridley Scott, which paid off well. The film is packed wall to wall with content, perhaps so much that a second viewing would benefit to pick up on any bits missed first time around.

Dicaprio strongly leads the cast, whilst Russell Crowe?s character wasn?t particular impressive. Mark Strong however was completely transformed and suited his part well and was an interesting character.

Not so much a beginning, middle and end type of story, but one that was more like an excerpt of a period of time throughout a dangerous political assignment.
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