Body of Lies
, 23 Feb 2009
I can see it now. 2010 and in DVD stores everywhere the latest boxsets hit the shelves in time for Christmas. One of them is a 6 disc set entitled Crowe/Scott: A Decade of Collaboration. Ok so far they have only done 4, but with Nottingham in production theres always chance that they can sneak in another before the back end of 10. Obviously the high point would be Gladiator, the one that launched Crowe in to the world of the A-List and endless parody.
The low point is a hard one to gauge as I havent seen A Good Year but of the ones I have seen this might be it. Not to say that it is bad, as it isnt by a long shot, but Body of Lies is ineffectual stuff in comparison to their other works. It may also be representative of a bit of a trait that has been occurring in movies for a while, namely a directors long affiliation with one actor. The gold gets struck, and then they continue onwards as surely lightning can strike twice. However rather like Clooney and Soderburgh it works for a couple of movies and then steadily begins to drop off to the point that no ones bothered.
Its called feet under the table syndrome. Its not necessarily a bad thing but you get so caught up in your safety blanket you fail to realise that your no longer pushing boundaries or trying out anything thats new. It just becomes standard, predictable and ultimately unadventurous. Body of Lies could have been a standard bearer, exciting and full of insight in to the current conflict in the Middle East but ends up just plodding.
In effect, Body of Lies is almost a copy of Tony Scotts Spy Game but in that film Redford and Pitt are given some semblance of a back history. In this all we know is that Crowes character is a CIA boss who has to make some tough calls from the safety of his Washington office while the ambitious Leo Di Cap does all the donkey work on the ground. And here in lies its difficulty in that by not really setting up the characters you are given no real incentive to become emotionally connected to them. This was something Spy Game did brilliantly well and made that the better of the 2 films.
Body of Lies can be frustrating at times. You can follow whats happening, understand the reasons for it, but because there is no semblance of connection or indeed presence (most orders come over the mobile) you struggle to care. Even when they do meet face to face and have a difference of opinion there seems to be really no spark unlike in American Gangster where Crowe and Washington had plenty.
So in all the movie washes over you rather then challenges you and becomes just another forgettable thriller. A shame considering the big names involved and the topic. If Scott and Crow continue to make movies in the same safe, unimaginative manner as this one then I can imagine that that DVD boxset will actually be on sale for the pricely sum of £4.99
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