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Body of Lies 

More thrills and relative moralism in the War on Terror

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Ridley Scott's latest actioner, about a CIA operative (Leonardo DiCaprio) working to uncover a major terrorist in Jordan, unfolds like a better-than-average beach thriller; in fact, it's based on a novel by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius. But if you've ever read a black-and-silver covered paperback seaside, you'll see most the plot coming, including the unbelievable romance and the snatched-from-the-jaws-of-death conclusion. Thus, the film's pleasures aren't in its widely telegraphed plot twists, one-dimensional characters or the over-used tech toys that let protagonists miraculously see and hear all. But the time-honored good guys vs. bad guys drama, dressed up in new geopolitics and directed by a competent hand, is like visiting an old, easy-going pal. There's some enjoyable work by Mark Strong as an urbane Jordanian intelligence official, and a bloated Russell Crowe amusingly chomps the scenery while simply talking on the phone. I must note, however, that even Hollywood's War on Terror-inspired stories are now taking on a world-weary, there-are-no-winners vibe, so don't expect a lot of rah-rah red meat.

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