review: Body of Lies (2008)

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I was pleasantly surprised by Body of Lies. I really didn’t expect to like it, it’s just not my kind of film. I think I’ve mentioned before in the blog (actually just had a look and it was in the No Country For Old Men) – I like films that have to be a film. I want a film to be a story that I have to be shown rather than told. Body of Lies is not that kind of visual film. It’s a story… and it’s a war story, another genre I’m not particularly interested in… they always seem a little too worthy for me. Also I’m not a Russell Crowe fan at all… actually I’m fairly indifferent on Leonardo DiCaprio too. However, despite all this, I liked it.

Body of Lies is about a CIA operative in the Middle East and his boss back in the US. A major terrorism campaign is being carried out Europe and the operative (DiCaprio) is on a mission to find the man who’s ordered it. That’s pretty much the gist of it really. Various things happen along the way and now that I come to write about it there’s little that stands out, not that I would – don’t want to spoil it or anything.

One of the things I liked about this film was the ease in watching it. There were quite a few strands running through it, not in a Crash kind of way – just that there are a few different parties involved in Ferris’s (DiCaprio) search, but it wasn’t difficult to follow. Now it’s not often I’d praise the fact that a film wasn’t too taxing on the brain but too often I watch films similar to this and I get the feeling that director or whoever has removed scenes to make it a bit more mysterious. It’s as though they sit down, watch a film through and think, “Oh no, if the audience isn’t constantly confused they’re not gonna think it’s a smart film. Let’s take some bits out and make it more of a puzzle!”. What ends up happening is that you get a film where some scenes are missing their context. It’s very annoying. Or maybe that’s just a pet hate of mine. Anyway, Body of Lies is not like this, it all makes sense. Well… story-wise, I’m not gonna start making political statements here.

I also liked the look of the film, it had an interesting colour palette, good lighting. But it wasn’t over-done, there’s weren’t too many arty shots (as I call them) that can sometimes get in the way of a story. And! and this is a big and now. AND, I didn’t find Russell Crowe particularly irritating at all… while Leonardo DiCaprio was very good…

Overall I’d have to say that what I liked about this film what that there was a certain balance to it. Now I’m sure someone else might watch it and think that it’s another wishy washy liberal anti-American rant. I didn’t see it like that at all. I just watched it as a film and not a political commentary – you can read whatever you want into Body of Lies but I think that’s more a reflection of oneself than the film. As far as I’m concerned, there were good performances, an interesting plot, it looked good and it was all wrapped up in a nice big bow in the end. It’s an easy film but I enjoyed it anyway.

I should possibly mention though that on the negative side, some fairly unlikely things do happen and a lot of it does seem slightly exaggerated. Only slightly though and that’s what I mean about the balance. Everyone’s a bit exaggerated for effect but it doesn’t really cause any harm. Also I wanted to mention that Mark Strong and his character were very good, the bit of levity was nice. Course I wonder if my saying that says more about me than the film…


1 Comment

  1. comment-avatar
    TimDecember 2, 2008 - 7:22 pm

    I have been wanting to see this movie. Thanks for the well thought out review. Now I’m really looking forward to it.

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