Body of Lies

  • Review Date: October 1, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 123 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Violent spy thriller is for adults only.
  • Review Date: October 1, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 123 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The lead characters don't know who to trust -- even among those who work at the same company they do. They kill others, including innocents, all in the name of getting ahead. Roger Ferris shows warmth toward a kind doctor, which triggers an epiphany of sorts.


Agents whip a naked man in a torture cellar. Lot of explosions, most of which claim lives. Guns are drawn and shot; they're also pointed at people's heads. A man throws an object at a wall. Lots of double-crossing, some beatings, and much coercion. A character is shown using his bare hands to pick at bullet shrapnel lodged in his arm.


Some mild flirting; one mention of a man needing to "bang" his wife.


Frequent use of everything from "s--t" and "p---y" to "f--k."


Hood ornaments for Mercedes Benz; logos for Hewlett-Packard and BBC World News; bottles of Coke are prominently displayed in a few scenes.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lots of social smoking and drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this gripping-though-inconsistent spy/terrorism thriller is quite violent -- almost tenaciously so. There's torture, gunfights, and explosions, as well as a fair number of close-ups of bloody injuries and corpses. People are sacrificed regardless of their loyalties, or even their actual involvement in terror activities. There's also some smoking and drinking and plenty of swearing (including "f--k"), though no real sexual content of note.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a hotshot CIA operative running shotgun on covert maneuvers in the Middle East. Edward Hoffman (Russell Crowe) is the paunchy, headstrong boss who has his back -- most of the time -- back in Langley, Virginia. Their mission is to stop the terrorists in their tracks and capture their fearsome leader, Al-Saleem (Alon Aboutboul). But they're foiled repeatedly ... until Ferris hatches a scheme to create a new, fictitious leader vying for prominence with Al-Saleem. It's a bloody plan aimed at trying the guilty, but it ends up sacrificing the innocent. Ferris isn't sure whether his allies -- including Jordanian intelligence -- are truly behind him, or whether his newfound friendship with an Iranian doctor (Golshifteh Farahani) will put everything, including himself, in jeopardy.

Is it any good?


The tension begins from the first moment and rarely lets up in Ridley Scott's BODY OF LIES. The quick camera cuts and the rough, gritty terrain add to the pressure. All good to be sure. But couple that with the movie's nearly unrelenting violence (bombs exploding, machine guns firing, bodies bleeding) and you end up with a thriller that flirts dangerously with being overdone (this is not a film for anyone prone to migraines). Although it offers a fascinating (if labyrinthine) look at the intricacies of running covert operations, in the end, it focuses too much on serving up stylized fare when all we really long for is a good, old-fashioned spy movie. Or at least one that illuminates or adds depth to what we already know -- from the news and from other movies that have taken on the subject -- about the war on terror.

But Body of Lies does do one thing perfectly: give viewers a chance to see two fine actors go toe to toe. DiCaprio is intense, but his Titanic-like charms add much-needed levity when he comes a-courting at his beloved physician's home. And Crowe is arrogant but compelling in a role that has him dispensing murderous orders while at his child's soccer game buffet and swinging by school for a drop off.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the ongoing war on terror. How does this movie confirm or defy your expectations of what secret agents do? How accurate do you think it is? What messages is the movie trying to convey about espionage and terrorism? Do you think it has a particular agenda? What makes this different from other thrillers? Families can also discuss Ferris and Hoffman's relationship. How would you characterize it? Knowing all he's done, does Ferris ever get pangs of guilt? What does that say about his character?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 8, 2008
DVD release date:February 17, 2009
Cast:Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Strong, Russell Crowe
Director:Ridley Scott
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:123 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong violence including some torture, and for language throughout

This review of Body of Lies was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 16 years old Written byourblackego July 6, 2009

Very good...

Failry decent, some F words, average for an R-Rated movie... Some torture violence, and alil blood. BEsides the ending it was a great movie... THe ending good have been better, but not complaining ... Good movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Teen, 17 years old Written byi_like_movies February 22, 2009

It's a lot like Blood Diamond, except replace the Africans with Arabs, and the diamonds with bombs.

as a major Leo fan i HAD to see this movie. it says f*ck a lot, so if you have problems with that... theres whipping, he gets bit/attacked by dogs, blood, a lot of inapropriate language, bombs and mad arabian people. its a lot like Blood Diamond except replace the african people with arabs, and the diamonds with bombs. i dont think people gave this movie enough credit. it took me a day to get the ending, the whole lie concept and then another day to relate it to the title. over all i would say that you shouldnt let young kids watch it, but i think people who like action movies in general (or Leonardo DiCaprio) should, because its a really good movie. review from a 14 year old girl.
Teen, 13 years old Written bylolfaceman May 9, 2009
good movie but one voilent secene
What other families should know
Too much violence


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