"Killing the Future with the Past"
There have been a great-many films about The Iraq War; emphasis on the "many," not so much on the "great." None have penetrated the box-office top five, and the movie-going public, with a constant dose of it (when things are going badly) on the news, have made the conscious decision to avoid paying attention at every opportunity. It may seem a disparaging thing to note, but, the public seems to have better sense than the government representing it.
"Body of Lies" with the one-two star punch of DiCaprio/Crowe, under the direction of Ridley Scott did manage to gain an audience (though not enough to topple the reigning champ-"Beverly Hills Chihuahua"), and it's just as well—it's a summation of just about every "Bush-war" film that has gone before, without adding anything new.
Part of the problem is Ridley Scott, who more often cares about how his films look than what they say. Part of the problem is William Monahan's script (which covers much of the same ground as the other films dealing with a high-tech war in a low-tech country, where boots on the ground see more than eyes in the sky--it just got there last, is all). And the other problem is that the war has gone on so long, that we might be running out of things to say about it, at least until some of the secrecy veil is lifted about the machinations going on in the marble halls and scrub rooms of Washington and Virginia.
Not to say the film doesn't have a lot to say. At one point--with a tight deadline to meet--I checked my watch to see if the film was about to wrap up, it being so full of incident and detail, and was shocked to see that an hour hadn't even gone by yet. There was still another hour to go! There is such a flood of realistic sounding information that it probably resembles the tsunami of information Homeland Security has to sift through with their Cray's. All of that research, all that sound and fury and the all the movie comes up with is "Tell the Truth."
Thanks. We knew that going in.
The points writer and director make are obvious: DiCaprio, in the Sandbox, has more of a grasp of what's happening, despite his getting marching orders from puppet-master Crowe in Langley. Scott repeatedly makes the point as DeCaprio curses at Crowe over his ear-bud, while Crowe's character is dealing with domestic needs at home. While Dicaprio's Robert Ferris is doing wet-work, Crowe's Ed Hoffman is SUV-ing the kids to school, with all the icy coolness of the uninvolved. And that happens frequently.
Ultimately, it's a waste of time, and is another of the many Ridley Scott projects that looks good, but doesn't add up to much in the long run. We've seen this story before.
Now, give us a good ending.
"Body of Lies" is a rental