Ridley Scott’s Body of Lies is captivating in its realism and restraint, writes Reidin Vaughan.
Terrorism has been a substantially used theme in film in recent years, so there are certain triggers that you look out for, (a shifty eye here, a sweaty lip there) and then you know what’s going to happen next. Except no one saw the first bomb coming! And that really gives you an insight into Body of Lies – it does what you’re not expecting.
Visually speaking, director Ridley Scott put a lot of thought into how to engage the audience beyond terrorist bad, American good by contrasting the Palestinian camps and the wealth of Middle America in back to back shots. Scott also used camera pans from satellite footage used by the CIA to track the main character across the Middle East. What the director does is actually put some realism into the film instead of throwing you a fantasy overloaded with too much gadgetry to remember who’s who.
As for plot, it’s not a fresh concept, but this old dog sure was taught some new tricks. The story centres on Roger Ferris, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who discovers the location of a major terrorist leader in Jordan and follows his every move as he comes to realise that maybe there are some innocents left in this war.
Layered over this is the subtle influence of Russell Crowe, the director of DiCaprio’s mission and the constant threat from Jordanian government official, Hani. The interplay between these three actors is almost as engaging as the horrific torture scenes that are interspersed throughout film.
Like other DiCaprio efforts of late, this is a film with a message – chase the terrorists for long enough and you might just wake up one day and realise you are one.
Nothing appears in this film that doesn’t happen everyday in real life, and just like the clips on the news, it has no intention of creating a movement among its audience. Ultimately what it shows you is exactly what it says on the tin – a body of lies, but its up to the audience to decide who is lying.