Body of Lies

It is clear that Russell Crowe ("3:30 to Yuma", "L.A. Confidential" and "The Insider") trusts Ridley Scott implicitly! They have collaborated a number of times ("Gladiator," "American Gangster" and "A Good Year"), to great acclaim. Crowe has gained a LOT of weight to play this role. I know this is expected of actors these days, but it can become dangerous; I hope he doesn't jeopardize his health.

In this current outing, Crowe is a pudgy, fully domesticated CIA official, in constant contact with his operatives via a Bluetooth headset while raking his yard, barbequing, taking pictures of his daughter's soccer game, delivering his son to school and otherwise living the very settled life of a suburban husband and father. In fact, during a rare trip to the Mideast, he says he has to get back home because he is "taking the kids to 'Lion King'...again."

Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Aviator" and "Catch Me if You Can") is his operative who goes from one high-risk encounter with terrorists to another. I never tire of the fascinating locations: Afghanistan and Jordan are the most-often seen.

The head of Jordanian security is played by an extremely handsome Mark Strong, who looks so much like Andy Garcia during his "Godfather III" days, it's spooky! In looking up Strong, however, it would seem that his Jordanian accent is simply one of his skills; his body of work is international ("Oliver Twist," "Stardust" and "Syriana").

The plot is pretty standard spy-vs.-spy boilerplate but DiCaprio gets beaten up, tortured, bitten by a dog, etc., on a regular basis, so things never lag. He and Crowe cobble together a clever ploy that is easily understood. In fact, I was impressed by the soundtrack; I had no trouble hearing the dialog. This tells me that it IS possible, so why in the world do other movie makers choose to make things so difficult?

Both Crowe and DiCaprio use mild Virginia accents which are typical of the folks from D.C. Crowe's dialog is very funny so he kept injecting some relief from DiCaprio's intensity. Of course the CIA makes some heavy-handed bungles, but the Arabs' hands aren't clean, either.

If you like hi-tech action, suspense and lots of blowie uppie stuff, this should be right down your alley!