Body of Lies Blu-ray Review
PictureBody of Lies comes to the next-generation Blu-ray format with a superior, High Definition 1080p rendition in the movie's original theatrically broad aspect ratio of widescreen 2.4:1. With the Director Ridley Scott's visual attention to detail it seems only apt that his imagery be given a flawless presentation here, an almost benchmark-quality offering to catch your eye. Detail is phenomenal, particularly over the sun-drenched desert landscapes, but also during the purportedly European locations, as well as for the close-up headshots and conversational (or interrogation) moments. The varied scenery also allows for some decent colour rendition and authentic locales. The fires burning across the Jordan backstreets, the smoke (or dust)-strewn, atmospheric settings, they all come across superbly, completely devoid of unintentional grain or softness. Solid shadowing and superior blacks make for excellent night sequences and round out a near-perfect visual presentation.
SoundTo accompany an outstanding visual rendition we get an almost equally noteworthy aural offering, with the movie's soundtrack presented to us in potent Dolby TrueHD 5.1. Dialogue comes across consistently clearly and coherently, dominating the frontal array wherever appropriate. The effects are myriad, and allow for excellent dynamics, bringing the rich environment to life, whether the dust clouds blowing, the fires crackling or the market streets bustling with people. The surrounds create the perfect atmosphere to convincingly depict this Middle Eastern setting, and the mix is further augmented by a suitably Middle Eastern-style score (kind of a variation on the Bourne scores) which keeps the movie going at a good pace. Although populated with a few explosive set-pieces, complete with suicide bombings, helicopters firing rockets and shooting aplenty - which also allows for superb dynamics and all-encompassing atmospherics - but is lacking slightly in the ooomf department, failing to truly shake things up with any noteworthy bass. Still it is a superior track, a hair's breadth away from being benchmark quality.
ExtrasFirst up we get a full length Audio Commentary by the Director Ridley Scott, the Screenwriter William Monahan and the Author of the novel that it was based upon, David Ignatius. Unfortunately they all recorded their contributions separately so you don't get any nice discussions between the three, but on the plus-side they each individually offer up some keen insight into the production - from very different perspectives. Scott always gives interesting, contemplative commentaries that err more on the technical side of things, but seldom feel overly dry. Monahan gives us some nice input about his take on the story, and ex-reporter Ignatius has the most to say about the current situation in the Middle East, and therefore is arguably the most interesting contributor. Overall it is not quite as good as perhaps a double-team offering from Scott and Ignatius, but the trio of intercut snippets works better than a Commentary by Scott alone.
Actionable Intelligence: Deconstructing Body of Lies - key sequences are explored in depth via on-set footage and cast/crew interviews. The “Focus Points” feature can be activated so that you can access each of the nine Featurettes as they become relevant during the movie, or you can watch the near hour-and-a-half's worth of making-of footage from the main menu, including dissection of the characters and casting, the costume and production design, the director himself, the location, the stunts and special effects, and the writer's work. Some of it is interesting material, although it is slightly annoying that you cannot just 'play all'.
The Interactive Debriefing feature allows you to see the Director Scott and his actors, DiCaprio and Crowe, comment on three different areas surrounding the production (story, collaboration and intelligence). Although the presentation is slightly gimmicky (in trying to be even more interactive it actually feels a little irritating) the end result does give us some nice discussions, at once both informative and interesting - boarding on insightful in some of the more politically-orientated talks - although it feels a little like those involved thought this was a more 'significant' movie that it is in reality.
We also get about fifteen minutes of Additional Scenes with Introduction and Optional Director Commentary (and this is the very first Deleted Scenes Introduction I have watched which is even vaguely informative, with Ridley Scott showing us his pin-board of scenes and explaining how things get chopped and changed around, resulting in some decent scenes not fitting into the grand scheme of things). Almost the gem of the disc, the five presented here are all worth watching, with more interaction between Ferris and Hani, a suicide-pill discussion between Ferris and his boss Hoffman and a slightly more substantial alternate ending. But the real highlight is the extra scene with Ferris' Muslim girlfriend, who takes him to the wrong part of town where he receives a rather nasty welcome - it's tense and has some action in it and really should have made the final cut.
VerdictBody of Lies is a solid Hollywood spy thriller, with topical political undertones, let down only slightly by the fact that you would have perhaps expected more from the trio of veteran filmmakers who collaborated to bring this to our screens. Director Ridley Scott has been off his game for a few years now, and both superior leading men are capable of much better than this. Still, even on an off-day, all three are better than most of their compatriots and have given us a decent, extremely entertaining Big Screen thriller. On Blu-ray the video presentation is benchmark-quality, the sound almost as good and the extras will keep fans thoroughly entertained for hours after the credits have rolled. Worth seeing if you're a fan of any of those involved, it comes recommended, similarly so if you liked movies like The Kingdom, Syriana and Spy Game, even if it's not quite as good as the best of those.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.15
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