If you've seen the promo for 'Body of Lies' and thought, 'Meh, another double-cross action movie' don't be so hasty. This is one of those films where the trailer isn't an accurate reflection of what it has to offer - but in a good way.
DiCaprio plays Roger Ferris, a CIA agent in Iraq whose job is to root out terrorist cells. Pulling his strings back at HQ in Langley, Virginia is Ed Hoffman (Crowe), a boorish, waddling know-all with little regard for Ferris' life and even less for the 'assets' he cultivates.
The duo's primary target is Al-Saleem (Abutbul), whose followers are waging a bombing campaign in Europe. Ferris' hunt takes him to Jordan, where he forms an uneasy alliance with Head of Intelligence Hani Salaam (Strong) as he tries to get closer to an Al-Saleem safehouse. But is Hoffman the greatest danger to Ferris' mission and life?
Still smarting over 'Quantum of Solace' and yearning for something with tension, technology and plenty of edge? Then this film is for you. Based on the book by David Ignatius and with a screenplay 'The Departed's William Monahan, 'Body of Lies' shows just how hit-and-miss intelligence gathering operations are, how unglamorous the job really is, how technology only goes so far and how ego is a motivating factor for terrorists and trackers alike.
Now 71, it's one of cinema's most life-affirming pleasures to still see Scott directing with so much verve and energy and 'Body of Lies' suggests that he won't be folding up his director's chair for a long time to come. Hopefully, that will include another film with DiCaprio and Strong: the former gets the mix of world-weariness and it's-my-ass despair just right while Strong is the best thing on screen as the very suave but very sinister intelligence chief.
As for Crowe, now on his fourth film with Scott, he and the director are still getting something out of each other but the feeling persists throughout that the crawl-from-under-a-rock Hoffman needed more development - a good character that could've been great.
The other flaws? Sometimes things go a little faster than they need to (the setting up of an architect as a terrorist figure is particularly badly handled and baffling) and DiCaprio's friendship with an Iranian nurse (Farahani) - good chemistry aside - always feels far-fetched. Whether you'll be too engrossed to be critical is another matter, however.
And if you're in any way squeamish, be prepared to look away on at least three occasions. There are needles and hammers, but, mercifully, not in the same scene.