Sir Ridley Scott is not only one of the world's most popular filmmakers—he's also a visionary. Best known for directing Alien and Blade Runner, two of the most influential sci-fi films ever made, he also delivered such classics as Thelma and Louise, Black Hawk Down, and Gladiator. Sumptuous cinematography and strong performances distinguish his grand epics about power, corruption, and conscience.
Ridley's brother Tony is known for flashy commercial thrillers and action pics—solid genre movies like Déjà Vu, Man on Fire, Spy Games, Enemy of the State, and Top Gun. He's more of a stylist than a storyteller. If you see helicopters, explosions, and a lot of high-tech gadgetry, chances are you're watching Tony's work.
On first glance, Body of Lies looks like a Tony Scott film, with its the super-slick style, ubiquitous cutting-edge technology, and spy-game conventions. But it's actually the bigger brother at the controls. And in this contemporary context, Ridley demonstrates the same delicacy in portraying culture clashes that he showed in 2006's Kingdom of Heaven.
It feels as if half of Body of Lies is viewed through the lenses of high-tech surveillance equipment. That's because the film is divided between a C.I.A. agent in the homeland, who organizes covert operations halfway around the world via cell phone, and the crackerjack field agent he commands and monitors.
The commanding officer is Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe). Like Christof in Peter Weir's The Truman Show, Hoffman is a grand manipulator who thinks that he can "save civilization" by monitoring the Middle East through the cameras of high-flying drones and using his hands-free cell phone to order agents on the ground into action. Hoffman's ego is frightful, ...1