More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 4.88%
Worth A Look: 19.51%
Pretty Bad: 19.51%
Total Crap: 2.44%

5 reviews, 11 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Astronaut (2019) by Jay Seaver

White Storm 2: Drug Lords, The by Jay Seaver

Vivarium by Jay Seaver

Art of Self-Defense, The by Jay Seaver

Crawl by Peter Sobczynski

Swallow by Jay Seaver

Perfection, The by Rob Gonsalves

Luce by Jay Seaver

Last Black Man in San Francisco, The by Jay Seaver

Farewell, The (2019) by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Body of Lies
[] Buy posters from this movie
by brianorndorf

"Ridley Scott tries to butch up again"
2 stars

“Body of Lies” is a mediocre espionage film tarted up as a prestigious offering, cast with blinding stars, directed by a once mighty visionary, and drawing from topical source material meant to provoke chills and international thought. However esteemed the package may be, “Lies” is a turgid Middle Eastern thriller, firing blanks as an action submission and presenting a wet match to light the fire of political discourse.

As a C.I.A. operative, Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio, appropriately furious) fights tooth and nail every day to maintain his cover and keep one step ahead of terrorists during his rounds of the Middle East. As Ferris’s boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe) enjoys the easy life in Washington overseeing perilous missions, abusing Ferris’s exasperation to his own advantage. Sent to Jordan to cozy up to intelligence officer Hani Salaam (Mark Strong), Ferris begins a campaign of deception to help nab an influential terrorist leader, only to find his own methods are starting to spiral out of control, leaving him and his newfound Iranian love (Golshifteh Farahani) wide open to vicious retaliation and the potential loss of American support.

Serviceable is a great way to describe “Body of Lies.” There’s nothing bone-rattling about this presentation of paranoia, instead the film takes a paint-by-numbers approach to wartime maneuvering and geopolitical happenings. Scott focuses on his polish this time around, making “Lies” a pretty picture with pretty stars, forgetting this genre is always best served with gritted teeth and an antagonistic point of view. Instead we have “The Kingdom” all over again: a topical thriller that uses Hollywood convention to limbo under any real confrontation or political stance. “Lies” isn’t nearly as dopey as last year’s Peter Berg sleeping pill, but it comes close, passing up an opportune moment to enrage audiences with a stark display of terrorism run amuck to skip through a field of cliché that wastes the monumental talents of the cast.

Scripted by William Monaghan (based on David Ignatius’s book), “Lies” takes a sprawling, globe-trotting look at the mind games of terrorists and those who enlisted in the fight to curb violence. Scott is predictably skilled at getting a sense of scope into the film, observing Ferris as he rubber bands all over the map to maintain his cover and integrity. “Lies” generates location recognition wonderfully, and I have little reservation with the technical achievements of the film. What bothers me is the tepid pacing of the picture, and the shameless calculation of the screenwriting, viewed directly in the character of Aisha, a nurse who treats Ferris for a possible case of rabies, stealing his heart in the process.

While performed with suitable flirtation by Farahani, the character is meant to soften Ferris and provide a dangling thread for the third act to swoop in and exploit. It’s tough to find a purpose for Aisha beyond obvious romantic manipulations, and the subplot seems to elongate an already overstuffed motion picture (125 minutes). Aisha is emblematic of the film’s attempt to follow structure within a plot that demands chaos, forcing Scott to usher in a mammoth suicide bombing, shoot-out, or torture sequence every 15 minutes to keep his audience awake.

“Lies” isn’t insightful about the war on terror, tends to sermonize when backed into a corner, and indulges Crowe far too much as he clowns it up as the prototypical American military fatso who would sell his own mother to protect himself. “Lies” cannot be swallowed as a lesson on current events, it’s not that profound. It’s a movie with terrorism, not about terrorism, and the thinness of the film starts to increasingly irritate when Scott has to find a way to end the picture on a stable note. Even if the concept was fresh (“Traitor” danced a similar jig two months ago), “Lies” remains an anesthetizing viewing experience.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 10/11/08 07:17:41
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell dull watch homeland instead 2 stars
6/30/09 matt totally unremarkable and predictable propaganda vehicle 2 stars
5/19/09 mary m I liked it but it went too long and we all lost interest. 3 stars
3/22/09 Monday Morning Love Leo, but this is just one more flick w/ a lot of explosions. Too long, too. 3 stars
2/22/09 action movie fan good start with good dialouge but too eneven and weak climax 3 stars
2/07/09 jeep not bad, not great, just a servicable espionage flick finely made 4 stars
1/14/09 Shaun Wallner Well made. 3 stars
10/13/08 mick How could you even compare no.1hack Berg with SCOTT! u suck balls! 5 stars
10/11/08 jcjs33 a 4 or 5 .. i liked Syriana a little more .. fun, entertaining, pertinent, fine acting 5 stars
10/11/08 Darkstar I thought it was pretty good 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  10-Oct-2008 (R)
  DVD: 17-Feb-2009


  DVD: 17-Feb-2009

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast