Body of Lies (2008)
This interesting but overloaded political thriller packs plenty of information and some high-tension scenes, and tries to explore a slice of the political situation in the Middle East after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Leonardo DiCaprio is the moral lone gunman, personified as an intelligence wiz, who infiltrates the local cultures and finds himself awakened by the reality of it all. Russell Crowe is the detached CIA executive who views the operations as statistics from a distance. The parable the filmmakers are making is palpable and resonant, and the film offers some slick moments of who-to-trust-segments in which Monahan is able to demonstrate some of his skills as a writer.
Unfortunately, the direction by Ridley Scott is indistinct, disclosing the film's obvious weaknesses. Scott's scenes just keep coming on with hardly any shift in tone and tempo. It's as if Leo goes from Iraq to Jordan to the United States and back a couple of more times during one day. And along the way he encounters all the usual sheep in wolves' clothing or wolves in sheep's clothing, usually with a good deal of stereotype. Scott has got little other to offer than to just keep piling it on. Ferris may be a great spy, but when it comes to human qualities, the filmmakers have only got DiCaprio's acting talent to rely on. He is faultless as usual, often rescuing this otherwise indistinct and uncreative, albeit quite unbiased, film from total boredom.