Body of Lies


Mixed or average reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 37
  2. Negative: 1 out of 37

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Critic Reviews

  1. 88
    Body of Lies neither panders nor condescends. It involves current events and has a political viewpoint, but it overplays neither.
  2. The crisply photographed and edited Body of Lies reveals some ambition, for while it certainly works as pure entertainment, this tale of a good man trying to extract himself from an impossible situation offers some commentary on America's feelings about being in Iraq.
  3. 80
    Its generic attributes (and title) notwithstanding, Scott's film may be the sharpest of all the post-9/11 thrillers--and also the most purely entertaining--in the way it maps the vectors and currents of the modern intelligence-gathering game without losing us in its dense narrative thicket.
  4. 75
    Body of Lies is a James Bond plot inserted into today's headlines. The film wants to be persuasive in its expertise about modern spycraft, terrorism, the CIA and Middle East politics. But its hero is a lone ranger who operates in three countries, single-handedly creates a fictitious terrorist organization, and survives explosions, gunfights, and brutal torture.
  5. 75
    The result is commendably non-West-centric, but no less sentimentally conceived.
  6. Fascinating and flawed spy thriller.
  7. 75
    It's not like the screens are so flooded with decent movies that we couldn't use another, particularly a timely, clear-eyed thriller about the Middle East and the role of the U.S. therein.
  8. As good as it is in pieces, its protagonists are distancing, its story is tangled, its film-noir cynicism is oppressive and unglamorous, and it just doesn't leave us with the satisfying unity of the kind of great movie it wants to be.
  9. 75
    Leonardo DiCaprio brings straight-razor reflexes and rooted emotion to the role of a deceptively rugged CIA man.
  10. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    It's a genre film - the action is fierce and nonstop - with a brooding undercurrent of unease that aims for the complexities of John le Carre.
  11. It may not be as much fun as old spy movies starring Cary Grant or more recent entertainments such as "Spy Game," directed by Ridley's brother Tony, but it feels all too accurate.
  12. 70
    The movie is smart and tightly drawn; it has a throat-gripping urgency and some serious insights, and Scott has a greater command of space and a more explicit way with violence than most thriller directors.
  13. 70
    With its urgent post-9/11 context and often brutal violence, it seems off-key to describe Body of Lies as a nifty political thriller, but that's what it is.
  14. Always crisp and watchable. But as the film's episodic story gradually reveals itself, it ends up too unconvincing and conventional to consistently hold our attention.
  15. Ftrangely emotionless. There's little offered in the form of rooting interests or compassionate characterizations, making the film ultimately as ephemeral as its title.
  16. 67
    Doesn't have much new to offer in either style or substance. It's got the same glossy-gritty urban warfare sheen as "Black Hawk Down" and every other Third-World geopolitical action thriller of the last few years.
  17. The most interesting thing about this slick but frustrating picture is the way it puts Crowe’s Hoffman at the center of our mixed feelings.
  18. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    A tautly paced, well-acted espionage thriller with the requisite explosions and action sequences. Still, it ends up leaving the viewer rather cold.
  19. The romance seems tacked on as a way to humanize this character; there's no reason the nurse would take up with a brash, secretive American.
  20. 63
    It's a generic, clunky title. The movie isn't quite as disposable, but it's not exactly memorable, either.
  21. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Scott doesn't bring much to the table as an action director, and his keen storytelling abilities go invisible here.
  22. The film has one indelible asset: Mark Strong, who plays the Jordanian spymaster Hani. He's sleek and lounge-lizard sharp like a young Andy Garcia, and he could be bigger than Garcia. The Jordanian holds all the cards, and opposite two superstars, Strong is the only actor who holds the camera.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    A mostly formulaic approach that becomes more disappointing as the yarn unwinds.
  24. 50
    As it is, the movie is a hodgepodge of borrowings and half-cooked ideas, flung together into a feverishly edited jet-setting exercise in purposeless intensity.
  25. For all of Ferris's desperate struggles, and for all the director's efforts to emulate the remarkable verisimilitude he achieved in "Black Hawk Down," his new film remains abstract and unaffecting. It's a study in semisimilitude, more Google-Earthly than grounded in feelings.
  26. Lacks, a story that makes it feel personal.
  27. 50
    Like Scott's last picture, "American Gangster," this is a little too slick and commanding for its own good; despite Crowe and DiCaprio's best efforts, their characters keep getting flattened by the steamroller narrative.
  28. 50
    Aside from a nifty new way to avoid surveillance in the middle of the desert, there's nothing here we haven't seen in many other movies - including "Spy Game," directed by Scott's brother Tony before 9/11.
  29. The sickly feeling that Body of Lies leaves at its conclusion isn't just about the brutality of its subject; it's the realization that real-life barbarism translates so easily into adrenaline kicks for the multiplex.
  30. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    DiCaprio and Crowe, two supposedly high-wattage movie stars, are remarkably dull to watch together--perhaps because so many of their scenes together take place over the phone.
  31. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    In all, Body of Lies is a mixed bag of treats and trials, but it should be seen by audiences, and emulated and improved upon by other top directors.
  32. It's a lot easier to follow than "Syriana." But intelligibility is about the only thing this international thriller has going for it.
  33. 40
    Excessively intricate and extremely dull, the latest example of a filmmaker giving us a disjointed, overlong movie that’s unnecessarily confusing to follow.
  34. It's like torture, though Body of Lies has nothing to spill.
  35. Reviewed by: Ian Nathan
    For all the enthralling visuals and action, the film feels garbled.
  36. Most of this just seems, you know, so three years ago, so "Bourne" again.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 144 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 42
  2. Negative: 3 out of 42
  1. LisaB
    Sep 14, 2009
    If it had not been for Mark Strong's performance in this movie, it would have been terrible. I'm a big DiCaprio fan, not so much of If it had not been for Mark Strong's performance in this movie, it would have been terrible. I'm a big DiCaprio fan, not so much of Crowe. But I expected a lot from this movie. As some people said before, it was a bit too Hollywood for my taste. But again, Strong's perforance steals the show and he proves that he can hold his own and even shine brighter than well known great actors. Full Review »
  2. JasonM.
    Nov 30, 2008
    Something tells me that my rating would have been much lower had it not been for the fact that I got a good night's sleep before seeing Something tells me that my rating would have been much lower had it not been for the fact that I got a good night's sleep before seeing this movie. In other words: This is a VERY complex film, with many subtleties and subplots, and one must be prepared to give it their undivided attention. That said, Body of Lies is certainly worth the attention span required. It is indeed cleverly executed and well acted; specifically, my favorite performance was that of Mark Strong, as the Jordanian head of Intelligence. Overall, Body of Lies intelligently combines the art of mind-games war drama with a cautious amount of exploding-in-your-face action. Why not a higher score? While the film was well put together, I feel that it is ultimately a bit forgettable. Movies like this have been done before, and this one doesn't exactly stand out from the bunch. Worth seeing if you see a lot of movies, but if you're an occasional moviegoer, you may wish to skip it. Full Review »
  3. Jul 15, 2014
    This one is alright to pretty good. Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe are great, Mark Strong's performance is also strong, while Oscar IsaacThis one is alright to pretty good. Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe are great, Mark Strong's performance is also strong, while Oscar Isaac has a good turn as well. Ridley Scott's direction is also good as usual. The story us interesting and quite compelling for surs. The action is also done very well, which is nice. In addition, the cinematography and the sets are good, making the imagery really nice and the locations believable. However, there are two major problems with this one. First, the script is poor. While the overall story is good, the telling of it is very convoluted and can be hard to follow at times. This is not helped by it being hard to hear some characters at times. In addition, the few scenes of torture are a little much for my liking. They are effective, but would have still been so if toned down just a little bit. Overall, Body of Lies is a solid action spy thriller sporting killer acting performances and an entertaining premise, which make the film an enjoyable one to watch. However, you have to pay close attention, as you can get lost easily. Full Review »