Set it next to the similar Middle-East intrigue of Syriana
, and Body of Lies
is easy to follow--in fact, this movie's plot is amazingly straightforward for an espionage picture. Leonardo DiCaprio is the CIA agent on the ground, an Arabic-speaking chameleon who believes in forging personal relationships based on trust and professionalism. Russell Crowe is his supervisor, a meddler who makes up the rules as he goes along and is more than willing to trade long-term benefits for a short-term "win." (One of these characters is surely intended to represent the foreign policy style of the Bush administration in the first decade of the 21st century; take a guess which one.) While working on a case in Jordan, DiCaprio gets a modest flirtation going with a nurse (Golshifteh Farahani), although his most intense relationship is with a Jordanian intelligence chief (great role for Mark Strong) who takes a wary view of the CIA's activities. Ridley Scott directs as though weary of all the fuss, and his merriment in Crowe's breezy sociopath gives the movie a rather strange aftertaste. It gets the job done, although after it's over you might find yourself craving the head-scratching complications of Syriana
. --Robert Horton
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.