Monday, October 13, 2008

Ridley Scott makes a muddled mess

Ridley Scott has a long career and his movies range from the dark and engaging thriller to the muddled and over blown thriller. Movies like Alien, Blade Runner and American Gangster work well and are very fun to watch as well as engaging. With his latest film, Body of Lies, the political thriller is enjoyable to watch but it's plot is ultra hard to follow and an overall muddled mess. The problem with the movie isn't that it's complicated but that the plot is very thin. It works more like a string of events tied together and we don't really get any character development whatsoever. This is surprising as the film has two big name actors delivering convincing performances. Both Leonardo DiCaprio and Russel Crowe bring their best to the leaky plot, but even this can't save it.

The story is centered around Roger Ferris (DiCaprio), a CIA operative who knows the Middle East like the back of his hand. His relationship with insiders working against terrorist orginizations is uncanny. His methods are questionable, but his results are good enough that he's young and well known throughout the intelligence community. Behind the scenes is Ed Hoffman (Crowe) who seems to be pulling the strings from the homestead. His scenes are usually him doing major National Security work from the comfort of his home. Using state of the art technology, Hoffman watches every part of the operations through the CIA HQ and is basically right next to Ferris and without his knowledge. This is the main source of conflict as they are constantly at odds with Hoffman being a right wing conservative and Ferris being a more moderate leftist. Their solutions to the problems are quite different as one will do terrible things to stop terror where the other one would rather negotiate.

The rest of the film then gets muddled by what it wants to do and who it wants to focus on. There is a really strange love story somewhere in there and the plot holes are rather large and easily identifiable. This minimally takes away from the enjoyment of the action and the performances, but ultimately ends up hurting the film. The supporting actors are just as convincing if not some of the finer moments of the film. Hani, a Lebanese intellegence expert, played by Mark Strong is one of the finer supporting performances I've seen this year. He is convincing and elusive all in one. The whole movie centers around the lying and manipulating of information between the two leads and although Hani is the most honest, he still leaves doubt in the minds of the Americans as they are unsure if they can trust him.

The film as a whole is enjoyable and decent, but creaky editing and a poor story ultimately make this just another forgettable film in Ridley Scott's line-up. Mark this next to Kingdom of Heaven and Black Rain.

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