Mr. Movie

'Body of Lies' adds to DiCaprio, Crowe, Scott's body of work

Body of Lies never lets up.

A palpable tension grinds on you for a bit over two-hours and leaves you as drained as the film’s characters.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as CIA agent Roger Ferris. He is at the center of a storm of instability and terrorism in the Middle East. Caught in an uncomfortable vice, he bing bongs between Iraq and Jordan trying to catch a terrorist, handle international mistakes created by his renegade boss, and keep the peace with Jordan’s national security head.

Working again with his favorite director, Ridley Scott, Russell Crowe’s Oscar-caliber supporting performance as Ferris’ boss Ed Hoffman nearly steals the movie. William Monaham’s (The Departed) screenplay is based on Washington Post columnist David Ignatius’ novel. Crowe read it and decided that Hoffman had to be played as someone from the South.

His instincts are brilliant.

Sporting a bristly haircut, a few extra pounds and a Southern drawl, Russell Crowe gives his favorite director Ridley Scott an Oscar-caliber performance. Cell phone earpiece jammed to his ear 24/7, the CIA boss spouts nonstop and entertaining textbook political tidbits.

Hoffman is completely void of even the most basic ingredients of humanity. A continent away from the action, he easily makes life and death decisions while taking his young child to the bathroom or faking normalcy by trying to take photographs while his daughter plays soccer.

Meanwhile an equally intense DiCaprio and co-star Mark Strong, as the chief of Jordan’s state security, anchor director Scott’s (American Gangster) compelling cat-and-mouse game.

And Scott ratchets that game up to what is close to a new standard for the intensity level of a thriller.

Everything ranging from DiCaprio’s jittery performance to shouts off camera to a car whizzing by cause you to jump.

Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars

Rated R for violence, language, mature themes. It opens today at the Columbia Mail 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself