I don't think that I would have liked this movie all that much if not for the amazing talents and chemistry of Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe. I would say that this film is miles ahead of recent Middle East spy films like Syriana (2005) and Traitor (2008).
While the script by William Monahan, based on the book by Washington Post writer David Ignatius, allows for the two actors to huff and puff, it's never enough to blow the house down. The film is intriguing but little more else.
Russell Crowe plays Ed Hoffman, an operative in the CIA who is coordinating a mission to find a terrorist named Al Saleem, a movie equivalent to Osama bin Laden. Saleem is responsible for several European bombings and intelligence reports have him bringing death and destruction to the United States.
Hoffman makes an emphatic argument, even in this technological advanced world, the U.S. is still very much in danger, and easing up would only make us easier targets. Hoffman represents a hard-nose and gung ho attitude that says do whatever is necessary.
Yet, Hoffman is not the man on the ground. He's arrogant, slick and even a smart alec, but at the end of the day it's not him running around the streets of the Middle East. He sits on his comfortable perch in Langley, VA, and coordinates everything by cell phone. He can orchestrate CIA attacks while driving his kids to school.
Leonardo DiCaprio plays Roger Ferris, the one who does the running around the streets of the Middle East. It also becomes necessary for Ferris to do some shooting and avoiding of explosions. Ferris is equally as brash and as cocky as Hoffman. Their strong personalities continually clash. Usually it's by Hoffman undermining Ferris' efforts to efficiently extract intel. Yet, Ferris is not as gung ho. DiCaprio delights as this hotshot CIA man who commands and charms simultaneously.
The direction, including most of the camerawork here, is fierce. From the outset, it looks like we're in for a Bourne Ultimatum action ride, but by comparison, Blood Diamond (2006) had more thrills. There's also an interesting plot twist, which is tantamount to the CIA planning a terrorist attack on an ally, but it's underplayed by all the Eagle Eye nonsense.
Three Stars out of Five
Rated R for language and strong violence including torture
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 8 mins.