Body of Lies
Directed by Ridley Scott

Written by William Monahan, from the novel by David Ignatius

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Russell Crowe, Mark Strong


Body of Lies

"Body of Lies" is a disgusting picture; in a way it's almost as bad as real life. It's the story of how a CIA mastermind named Ed Hoffman, a man without a conscience - played by Russell Crowe - runs his deputy - Roger Ferris, played by Leonardo DiCaprio - into and out of the most immoral, ghastly actions imaginable, and how DiCaprio, who still has a conscience, finds himself unable to tear himself away.

As I watched "Body of Lies" I thought of the critic Michael Medved, a man whose world-view is exactly the opposite of mine, who looks at films through the lens of a far-right-wing scold, and I found myself thinking, now I know what makes him tick. As Medved is outraged by gays, by sex outside of marriage, by anything that does not hold up the American flag as sacred, so I am outraged by men without a conscience, by men who think that the United States can do anything it wishes at any time to any one, because we are God's messengers on earth.

In that sense the film is just like real life, in that the neo-cons, the men who brought the world into its present misery, were utterly convinced that anything they thought up was for the best: torture, murder, rendition, and perhaps worst of all, a sense of superiority that the United States owed nothing to anyone, at any time, at any place in the world.

In the film, DiCaprio is Crowe's man in Iraq, meeting a suicide bomber who has information on terrorist organizations and would like asylum in the United States. When DiCaprio finds that his man's life is in danger from his former associates, he kills him but saves some CDs. From there he goes to Amman, Jordan, where Crowe wants him to work without the Jordanian's knowing. He meets Hani, the head of Jordanian intelligence - a wonderful performance by the British actor Mark Strong - but must double-cross Hani at Ed's insistence. This will come back to haunt him as the script now calls for Roger to create a new terrorist out of whole cloth- an architect who is completely innocent - as a way of luring his real target out of hiding. Do we know what will happen to this architect? I think you can guess.

As I say, "Body of Lies" is almost a mirror image of real life; it is creepy, and it stuck right at the top of my craw; I only hope that somehow the world will find people of conscience to overcome it.