Film Reviews

BODY OF LIES

By • Oct 8th, 2008 •

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DiCaprio works hard while Crowe does chores at home and eats.

Getting fat for a role is necessary when you are playing a real-life fat man. Diego Rivera was obese (Alfred Molina in FRIDA) and the older Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro in RAGING BULL) had gone to seed. But let’s face facts, Russell Crowe is fat, so why claim he was told by BODY OF LIES director Ridley Scott to put on an extra 63 pounds? Crowe says Scott told him: “Now, mate, would you mind putting on a significant amount of weight? I see him (the character) as an ex-athlete who has let himself go.”

This is the 4th movie Crowe has made with Scott (with NOTTINGHAM – number 5 – opening next year). Does anyone believe Crowe did what Scott asked him to do and force-fed himself Twinkies all day long?

Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a CIA agent working in the Middle East being stage-managed by a spy satellite (that everyone on the ground can clearly see) that is directed by god-like, omnipresent Ed Hoffman (Crowe) who is really a house-husband. While manipulating world events as he sees fit in the Middle East, Hoffman does chores such as driving his children to school, making breakfast, and doing laundry. Attached 24/7 to an ear phone to the agents on the ground in the hotbed Middle East, he’s also likely to be his son’s nursery school aide every Monday.

I needed a War On Terror manual to follow this jumble of picturesque intrigue. Ferris is a fluent Arabic-speaking operative doing and going exactly where Hoffman directs him. Hey, maybe that’s what Crowe liked about the role! He’s telling a big star to heel, stay, roll over, and kill.

Ferris’s mission is to find a secretive terrorist operating out of Jordan. This brings Ferris from Iraq to Jordan and an uneasy alliance with the bespoke-wearing head of Jordanian intelligence, Hani (Mark Strong). Ferris also has a local tour-guide and contact, Bassam (Oscar Isaac), a computer genius (Simon McBurney), and a nurse-love interest, Aisha (Golshifteh Farahani).

Ferris decides on a scheme to flush out the targeted terrorist by setting up a bogus rival terrorist group. His reasoning is that this terrorist is really interested in his own hagiographic legacy and will be jealous of an interloper carrying out non-sanctioned, rogue bombings.

There’re a few mano-a-mano scenes between Ferris and Hoffman to show off DiCaprio’s acting skills. And, to be honest, DiCaprio is picking his roles wisely, choosing projects that are tough and give him lots of dimension. The romance between Ferris and Aisha is not only unnecessary but awkward. Shouldn’t Ferris be smart enough not be give his enemies and his overseer Hoffman an emotional target to get at him?

This spy thriller gets muddled, then murky, and ends as all spy thrillers must, as another day at the office. Nothing gets resolved and Hoffman has to wrap things up quickly since he has to take his kids to see “The Lion King” while his wife leads a black-op group in Pakistan hunting OBL.

Crowe is a sexy fat man and he is always seductive with his male co-stars. It’s his way of getting the upper-hand in scene-stealing. Now I know the Sheriff of Nottingham liked banquets so he could be a well-fed villain, but are we going to see a hefty Robin Hood flirting with Friar Tuck?

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