Body of Lies is a strange film that’s handicapped to a degree by the fact that its two towering leads – diCaprio and Crowe – conduct most of their interactions telephonically.
DiCaprio plays Roger Ferris, a CIA operative in Iraq who’s distinguished from his fellow countrymen by actually liking the Middle East and Middle Easterners generally. But in spite of his fervour and relative decency, Ferris is continually undermined by his boss (Russell Crowe), a lard-ass cynic who observes and controls Ferris’ every move via real-time images from a high altitude spyplane. This way he also fucks up Ferris’ more sensitive relationships – budding girlfriend, Jordanian spy chief, Arab stoolpigeon, that kind of thing. The plot such as it is revolves around attempts to lure out a shady Bin Laden-ish recluse, mostly by prodding his ego via the creation of a fake rival terror outfit. Frankly they could have made a really good hour-and-a-half movie about that subplot alone.
The film was shot on location in Washington D.C., Europe and various locations in the Middle East. Dubai however was canned as a principal location after the National Media Council there took exception to content of the script (something to do with keeping a very big distance between themselves and terrorists.) It meant though that director Ridley Scott had to relocate the Jordanian sequences of the movie to his old stomping ground of Morocco, Because of his history in shooting in the country (he shot Black Hawk Down and Kingdom of Heaven there) Scott has become big muckers with King Mohamed VI, which helped the production gain access to government buildings and locations such as the Ministry of Finance and Casablanca airport (which doubled as Jordanian locations in the film). The decision had other implications for Dubai, however; two other Dubai-set shoots, a big-budget studio pic as well as a smaller budget East European feature, subsequently pulled out of filming there. Ouch.