Body of Lies is a movie that a major studio greenlit because two stars and a star director--all proven commercial commodities--wanted to make it. Ridley Scott and Warners producer Donald DeLine corralled Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe (overweight and middle-aged, with a southern drawl) to star in this anti-CIA Middle East intrigue.
Yes, it's a thriller, with guns and explosions and helicopters and cutting edge gadgetry. It pits a tough honorable man against other equally tough not-so-honorable men. Nothing new there. Unfortunately, it is set in Iraq, which makes me want to run out of the theater. So why did I go to the screening last night? Because Scott and DiCaprio and Crowe are irresistable. And while I was often wishing I were somewhere else, the movie delivers. (Critics are giving it 50 % on Rotten Tomatoes so far.)
DiCaprio is a movie star: I have to see whatever movie he does. Crowe is always fun. And Scott knows how to keep things moving. Todd McCarthy liked it less than I did:
Neither the location-based verisimilitude of Ridley Scott's shooting style nor the estimable Middle East expertise of source-material author David Ignatius can disguise "Body of Lies" as anything other than the contrived phony-baloney it is. Coming on like an inside account of CIA operations against jihad-minded terrorists, pic shows its true colors by featuring a shootout, chase or big explosion every 10 minutes or so, on its way to a climax so conventional it would have been at home in a 1940s Warner Bros. melodrama. Despite the Iraq War hovering in the background, Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe leading the charge in a high-octane would-be thriller should produce solid mainstream B.O. worldwide.
The movie looks to open big this week. But I'm not the only one resisting the Iraq subject matter. One third of moviegoers asked by Movietickets.com if "the backdrop of Body of Lies would impact your decision to see it" answered yes:
31% - Yes
69% - No
Total votes on MovieTickets.com: 1,985
Here's the trailer:
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]