Reviewer's grade: A+
Ridley Scott's new opus stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Roger Ferris, a mid-level man-on-the-ground for the CIA's Middle East division. Ferris spends his time gathering intelligence by partnering with locals in a wide array of locales, in search of a man called Al-Saleem (Alon Abutbu), a terrorist leader the CIA refers to as the "white whale." After a particularly dangerous mission that garners some important terrorist intel " along with several lacerations and bruises " Ferris is sent to Jordan to scope out a possible center of terror-ops with connections to Al-Saleem.
Ferris takes charge in Jordan, but only on the authority of Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), head of the Middle Eastern division. Hoffman is a puppet master who pulls strings over a headset while he goes about his daily domestic duties back in Virginia. Things go well until he starts interfering from afar, planting another mole to make contact with the suspected terrorists, almost blowing the operation and putting Ferris's relationship with the Jordanians on rough terrain. This is heavy, masterful stuff. Based on a novel by Washington Post columnist and associate editor David Ignatius, the story may be fictional, but the situation and circumstances hold a feeling of very real plausibility.
Throw in a solid supporting cast and a level of professionalism on all production fronts that is all-too absent in most movies, and "Body of Lies" easily qualifies as one of the year's top releases. R