2008, Movies

Body of Lies (2008 Ridley Scott)

I have no idea whether or not this film is accurate as to the day to day actions of CIA operatives in the Middle East – I doubt it, but it is a fictional film after all – but, for much of its run, it is an effective political thriller with a strong sense of place and grounded in what feels like a realistic portrayal of CIA operations in Iraq and Jordan during the aftermath of the US invasion of Iraq. Crowe and DeCaprio are both excellent, as is the supporting cast, which makes it easy to like the movie, even while it mostly fails to address any of the larger political issues.


But the film (or, perhaps, the novel its based on) lacks the courage of its convictions and the idea that Americans don’t know enough about the Middle East, which is why they are bungling around in it, doesn’t hit home enough in part because of the deus ex machina ending. Having DeCaprio’s character get saved by the Jordanian secret police enforces the idea that the Americans are meddling where they shouldn’t, as does his character’s decision to stay in Amman. But what really would have emphasized the idea, and what would have felt more authentic – and what would have been the brave decision – would be to omit the deus ex machina and have DeCaprio’s character become yet another Western victim of a Jihad video. That would have been a powerful film.


  • Directed by Ridley Scott
  • Produced by Ridley Scott, Donald De Line
  • Screenplay by William Monahan, Based on Body of Lies by David Ignatius
  • Starring:
    • Leonardo DiCaprio as Roger Ferris
    • Russell Crowe as Ed Hoffman
    • Mark Strong as Hani Salaam
    • Golshifteh Farahani as Aisha
    • Oscar Isaac as Bassam
    • Ali Suliman as Omar Sadiki
    • Alon Abutbul as Al-Saleem
    • Vince Colosimo as Skip
    • Simon McBurney as Garland
    • Mehdi Nebbou as Nizar
    • Michael Gaston as Holiday
    • Kais Nashif as Mustafa Karami
    • Jamil Khoury as Marwan Se-Kia
    • Lubna Azabal as Cala
    • Ghali Benlafkih and Youssef Srondy as Rowley and Yousef
    • Ali Khalil as Zayed Ibishi
    • Annabelle Wallis as Hani’s Girlfriend
    • Michael Stuhlbarg as Ferris’s Attorney
  • Music by Marc Streitenfeld
  • Cinematography Alexander Witt
  • Edited by Pietro Scalia
  • Production companies: Scott Free Productions, De Line Pictures
  • Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Release date: October 10, 2008
  • Running time: 128 minutes
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • Budget $67.5–70 million
  • Box office: $118.6 million

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