Body of Lies is perhaps the most consistently solid motion picture of 2008 thus far. It offers great performances, expert direction, and a sense of realism seldom captured in this type of film. It buries us deep into events timely and relevant to real life, so much so that it requires that the viewer pay close attention throughout, but it never loses sight of the importance of it's characters.
Body of Lies is one of those films which appeals to the more intelligent, most likely adult, audiences who are looking for more than just bustling car chases and copious amounts of violence. Although there are a few examples of these elements here and there throughout the film, it is more interested in the goings on between governments, the background intelligence -- the “behind the scenes” stuff if you will. The film jumps from location to location pretty flippantly, and thus it requires consistent attention be paid to it in order for it to be understood and followed as intended. This is not a film suitable for bathroom breaks; once someone returns they will no doubt feel a bit lost.
It goes without saying that Ridley Scott is one hell of a talented director. It’s true he’s made his fair share of at best mediocre films over the years (Hannibal or Kingdom of Heaven, anyone?) but even the best directors have a bad day at the office. Body of Lies certainly isn’t one of them as although it's definitely not his best work (it will not go down in history as “all-time great”) it’s still a solid piece of work made by one of the most competent directors around.
The script is penned by William Monahan who wrote The Departed a couple of years ago. With that he used his skill to merge engaging characters with a great crime story and here he does the same in the form of a political thriller. The emphasis in Body of Lies is less on sharp dialogue and watching characters play off of one another and more on a complex and challenging story and simply dropping the characters in the thick of it. Not least of which is DiCaprio’s CIA Agent, Roger Ferris.
While in Jordan searching for the terrorists behind various bombings around the world, Ferris uncovers a lead which may help him in his assignment . DiCaprio is in top form, as we’ve become accustomed to from his recent work. It’s perhaps a clichéd line to say now, but he really is one of the best actors around today and it doesn’t look like his talent is diminishing in the slightest, perhaps it’s even improving over time as he gains experience.