|Body of Lies (2008)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Tuesday, 03 March 2009|
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Roger Ferris, a CIA agent that is stationed in the Middle East as part of an intelligence gathering operation on global terrorism. Ferris is a hotheaded young man who doesn't seem to be old enough for the high-position that he has in the agency. His boss is Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe). The man is always on the cell phone, with the earpiece hanging out of his ear. He is the typical government agency official that can't leave the job at the office. He is always speaking to someone at the office while attending to his children.
After Ferris' partner is blown into pieces, Ferris is reassigned to Amman. He is instructed to ally with the chief of police, Hani Salaam (Mark Strong). The ultimate goal for the CIA operatives is to find the location of the terrorist of the day, Al-Saleem (Alon Abutbul). Hoffman is impatient and wants results immediately. He flies into Jordan to meet with Hani personally. He pressures Hani into giving him Karami, an insider into the Al-Saleem gang. Hani refuses, and Ferris agrees. Hoffman goes behind his operative's back and botches the job. The Al-Saleem gang hiding out in Jordan burns their hideout and leaves, making the trail go cold.
Hani does not tolerate lying, and kicks Ferris out of Jordan. This is when Hoffman and Ferris come up with the plan to create a pseudo-terrorist faction. They pull off a bunch of paperwork and get people believing that a new terrorist group is out there. The purpose here is to agitate the ego of Al-Saleem and get him to come out of hiding. OF course everything works out for everyone in the end. No surprise there.
Crowe delivers a detached performance. He was so dull in the film that I thought he was half sleeping. DiCaprio is a whinny little operative that doesn't want to be part of the CIA. Instead he wants to start dating a woman in the Middle East. All the performances were okay, but there is nothing an actor can do with an overdone story.
Ridley Scott is a terrific director, it is just unfortunate that he did this film. "Alien," "Gladiator," "American Gangster" were all great directorial features. "Body of Lies" is just average. On the other hand, the cinematography is good.
The video quality is overall a great presentation for the style of the film. The Middle East sequences are very yellow and orange. The details are the most stunning part of the visual quality of this Blu-ray. The details in the rubble are clear and well textured. The black levels are terrific, providing as much pop as the image can give. With a lot of natural lighting, this is not an easy feat. The colors are drab in the Middle East sequences, and only slightly more saturated back in the US sequences. Shadow delineation suffers due to the lighting. The biggest issue with the transfer, and it is only slightly noticeable, is edge enhancement. For some reason or another, studios seem to think that artifact sharpening is a necessary step in Blu-ray authoring. It just isn't so. Depending on how good your display is, you may or may not notice it in this film. Grain is present in throughout the film, which is be expected. There are a couple instances of vertical banding as well.
The audio track is almost perfect. Luckily, Warner felt it suitable to give "Body of Lies" a Dolby TrueHD audio track and not just standard Dolby Digital, as is seemingly the case with there new film releases. The surround channels are constantly active. They contain discrete effects as well as a smattering of ambience. Localization is excellent when it comes to discrete effects. Bullet ricochets are loud and present. The bass is significant in the LFE channel. It really kicks in during the explosive sequences. However, the soundtrack is a bit uneven. Some explosions are weaker than others when in fact they a visually more powerful. The dynamics are fairly good. The soudntrack never goes too low, but it extends to some louder section of the medium's range. The dialogue is anchored to the center channel. The dialogue is clean, but the clarity wavers between understandable and unintelligible at times. Overall, the dialogue track suffers from a lack in the upper-mid frequencies, leaving the dialogue muddy.
In terms of special features, first there is an audio commentary with director Ridley Scott, screenwriter William Monahan, and the author of the novel on which the film is based, David Ignatius. This is a very dull commentary. Scott gives the most interesting information, but it is hard to sit through. "Interactive Debriefing" is a featurette in which Crowe, DiCaprio, and Scott discuss the film's themes. There is a section of deleted scenes with an introduction and optional director commentary. The section contains an alternate ending, which some view as a better ending. "Actionable Intelligence: Deconstructing 'Body of Lies'" contains the film's key scenes with on-set footage and cast and crew interviews on the scenes. Lastly, the film is enhanced with BD-Live.
"Body of Lies" will attract many filmgoers. However, in my opinion the film just doesn't make the cut. The plot is just too redundant. For the most part you will know exactly where the story is going. The video and audio quality however, make the film one to add to your collection. You may even be able to find video demo reference material on the Blu-ray.