Body of Lies

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The other day, I went to watch a movie – the above title in fact – 'Body of Lies' with Leonardo Dicaprio (Ferris) and Russell Crowe (Hoffman). Normally I like to know which movie I'm going to watch however this was quite an unplanned visit and this was the movie that was playing at the time we got to the cinema.

The movie is about the how the CIA operates when surveying terrorist activists around the globe, the superior use of satellite devices; the factors that an undercover operative witnesses and how their attitudes towards situations affect their work … all of this, of course high lighting that the terrorists are all Muslims. Quite prominent in all US released news and film.

Now before I delve any further – let's get one thing straight. Some people might be offended when reading this (or might not at all – I hope) and I don't know what kind of reaction you would have.

This is one of the few movies I feel that captures the real life battles of egos, authority, policies and procedures and is a pretty accurate visual interpretation of what actually happens in the 'real world'. It almost defies all the words printed by the press; the blatant racism and accusation that states Muslims are terrorists.

Movies related to the war in Iraq have been a pretty tough sell in the U.S. thus far. I guess it's not that surprising; no one wants to go to the movies to get depressed when they can get enough of that from simply watching the news. However with this movie, at least I came out feeling that 'finally' someone has gone on to show two sides of the story as opposed to just the one side where the US comes out on top. It really isn't always the case and I just don't feel like that's an accurate depiction of what is actually taking place.

Since the movie is concerned with issues of information, misinformation and disinformation, rather than weaponry and technology, at least one third of the yarn consists of brief phone conversations between Ferris and Hoffman, who's often seen around his pool or in his yard, playing with his children, while getting crucial info and making on the spot vital decisions that might affect the lives of Ferris and others.

There's Ferris who's out in the field trying to infiltrate an Al-Qaeda network – traveling between Jordan and Iraq – always communicating with Hoffman on his cell phone whilst Hoffman keeps a track of Ferris by way of satellites. There is an internal battle between Ferris and Hoffman where one sees how the head of CIA operations, Hoffman is concerned that national security is not breached – at any cost … whilst Ferris has to comply with orders, the humanitarian in him comes out in scenes where he would like to 'do the right thing' whilst not defying orders at the same time.

Ferris partners with Hani Salaam, Head of Intelligence in Jordan, to infiltrate the network – and much to his own dismay, Hoffman doesn't believe in sharing information with Salaam. In its own way, just that triangle between these characters shows how in real life, the people appointed to guard national security, are judgmental in their thoughts and outlook towards even those who are trying to work alongside them. Hoffman wants Ferris to go behind Salaams' back and Salaam has made it clear that if he feels he's being deceived then Ferris has to leave the country and he can't guarantee his safety.

What one will also find in this movie is the difference in attitude and approach in dealing with people … Salaam manages to get a mole into the terrorist network and his methodology of doing so is almost simple and basic in nature – but the full effect of that humanitarian method is highlighted at the end of the movie when Ferris is captured and on the brink of being killed. If we move along the other side of the ocean, we see Hoffmans' almost callous attitude towards people – if he has no use for them – he doesn't care of their outcome – he just wants results.

One must understand that terrorist acts are not conducted by people such as you or me – but more by a smaller segment of people who quite literally believe that their way of life is the best way of life. This applies to all cultures, castes, nationalities, religions – it is not something that applies to any one culture or religion. For some people, terrorism includes antisocial behavior by their own countrymen, and for some unless there's a bomb blowing up – it doesn't count as a terrorist act. We must learn to work together with people from all backgrounds if we want to achieve some sort of harmony … if we mistrust those around us – they are at some point – bound to reciprocate the same feelings – and then we complain that we are being judged !

In today's world – we are all an amalgamation of cultures regardless of our skin colour and background. No country is 'unique' anymore that it only has descendents of their own … People travel, people move, people make homes all over the world, and their children grow up in an environment that doesn't belong to them – but they make that new environment their home. There are some 'foreigners' in our 'home countries' that treat that country more as home than they do to their own native land. We as people actually care about those around us and will go out of our way to see all go right. Unfortunately those people are not at high levels of position to necessarily make a difference to the world. With the news and media creating such a ruckus on 'who is a terrorist' and 'weapons of mass destruction' – the higher ups are just abusing their position of authority to create a disillusioned world.

In a way, this movie offers a cynical yet unfamiliar perspective on how the war of terrorism is conducted, both as a matter of routine and as a highly risky, endless cat-and-mouth chase, which inevitably involves risking the lives of officers and civilians, all over the world. Maybe the movie was meant to reinforce the fact that the U.S. is completely helpless when it comes to intelligence in the Middle East, and that terrorism is part of a vicious cycle.