- Released Internationally on 10/10/08
- Released in Malta by KRS on 19/11/08
In a nutshell
Based on the novel by the same name, this political thriller follows a CIA agent as he travels to Jordan to track down a high-ranking terrorist suspect.
Who’s in it?
Leonardo DiCaprio is agent Roger Ferris, the CIA guy who gets most of the action. His boss and eventual partner is Edwin Hoffman, played by Russell Crowe, who looks like he just walked off the set of The Insider because he had to put on weight and grey his hair for the part. Directorial duties fall to the inconsistently brilliant Ridley Scott.
Why we’re hyped
As mentioned above, Ridley Scott is undoubtedly talented, but some of his efforts just seem to miss the mark, and fail to live up to his other amazing work. Let’s hope this will go on the shelf with Gladiator, Blade Runner and Matchstick Men rather than on the shelf with G.I.Jane, Kingdom of Heaven and A Good Year. One thing he can’t complain about here is the cast – because DiCaprio and Crowe have proved to be two of the most bankable and applauded leading men of the past decade.
I heard the news today
From the opening sequence, this film manages to root itself in today's reality: a tense Middle-Eastern situation and a western world trying, and often failing, to track down the terrorists who are blowing up innocent victims in big cities, and giving the Arab world a bad name. As we have sadly seen on the news numerous times in the past decade, the film starts with a deadly blast which leaves a major city shaken, and all fingers point east, but to nobody in particular. Ridley Scott goes behind the news items to show us what happens before and after the footage we see from the comfort of our homes.
Off the grid
Despite increasing use of sophisticated technology, the big shots in the US are often unable to locate the terrorist leaders due to their hermit-like existence, and their ability to get their message out without using phones, internet and other traceable devices. As Hoffman (Crowe) explains, if only their major suspects would use a mobile phone even once, his job would be much easier. This is where agent Ferris (DiCaprio) comes in - he's the street-wise, hardened agent who's fluency in Arabic and variety of facial hair help him to blend in with the locals, and slowly track down possible leads or suspects. It's a dangerous job, but he's good at it, and doesn't have much to go home to anyway. Where technology reaches its limits, he's the man to call.
Both Crowe and DiCaprio are on top form here, with the former fashioning an easily dislikeable character, who at times seems to be the most knowledgeable guy in the business, but who might not be as smart as he thinks. DiCaprio continues his string of excellent acting roles with an admirable, believable agent, who is everything that his boss is not. Once his character has been firmly established, Scott introduces the love-interest sub-plot, which provides a key angle to the story. Making his second good impression this year is supporting actor Mark Strong, who stood out from the ensemble cast in Guy Ritchie's RockNRolla. He portrays the head of Jordanian Intelligence, Hani Salaam, and seems to be the only level-headed constant in the whole middle-east.
The film unravels wonderfully and then binds together for a powerful finale, and is a joy to watch. The sense of realism is present throughout, both in the form of recognizable footage and scenarios as mentioned above, but also due to meticulous attention to details in every scene, such as the progression of DiCaprio's facial injuries during the course of the film. We might never know whether this is an accurate picture of what's going on over in the desert, but it's definitely believable and convincing.