Monday, October 13, 2008

Point blank blah

There are good movies, and there are bad movies. And then there are some movies that are neither good nor bad, but just plain pointless. Body of Lies falls under that last category. When the lights came up inside the theater at the end of the movie, all I could think was, "What was the point?"

Here's the plethora of problems that plagued Body of Lies: It was marketed as an espionage thriller, but it offered very little in the thrill department. It wasn't suspense-laden or action-packed
, it wasn't engaging, and it wasn't enlightening. It had chase scenes, but they were nowhere near pee-in-your-pants exciting. It had a politically-charged and socially relevant story, but it played out like a mediocre, overly long CNN feature. It had a romantic angle, but it fell flat. It had Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe, but their roles (CIA operative and CIA boss, respectively) weren't complex enough for actors of their star power. It had Ridley Scott directing, but I didn't even remember that until I saw his name in the end credits.

I've considered that perhaps the dreariness of Body of Lies can be attributed to its not-so-novel premise. The topic of terrorism in the Middle East (and counter-terrorism measures undertaken by the CIA) has been exploited so often in the post-9/11 age of Hollywood that audiences have grown weary of it all. We hear the words "Islamic extremists", "car bomb", "jihad", "Guantanamo", and "the war against terror" so often on the news that we've become desensitized to the madness. Even an intense torture scene involving Leo DiCaprio doesn't make for good entertainment anymore, at least not for me.

Whatever message Body of Lies was trying to get across, I didn't appreciate it at all. Yes, I know there are Muslim suicide bombers coming from all parts of the Middle East. Yes, I know the unethical and manipulative methods employed by the CIA. Yes, I know the frightening capacity of technology to track people down, follow their every move, and distort information to suit the purposes of the ones with the big-ass computers and satellites. Yes, I know that innocent lives are being taken in the name of religion and retribution. But did I really need a ponderous, self-important film to tell me all of those things I already knew from just watching the news?

Like I said, what's the point?


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