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Roger Ferris is a CIA agent working the Middle East, plotting and killing and trying to get to the heart of the terrorist organisations on the ground directing a series of attacks on European cities. His missions are being controlled by Ed Hoffman, who is sitting in his Langley control rooms, watching the proceedings trough live high-resolution satellite feeds, moving about the troups.

There is Leonardo di Caprio and there is Russel Crowe, and the one’s anger and energy and the other’s slick relaxedness and business-like attitude creates the tension of the film. They work together, but they are entangled in a constant struggle about strategy and tactics, they will never become friends. Hani Salaam, the chief of the lebanese intelligence service and key cooperator on the operation, steals the show for both of the other stars, though. He is more sophisticated, more charming, and more in charge of the situation. Apart from him, the true star of the movie will be the satellite imagery, which is even more impressive to watch than the one used in that other film, was it “Enemy of the State”? It conveys the distance between the player and the gameplay, the killer and the killed, and the high-tech setting and production design of the whole movie, together with the footage of the ground, actually is done really well to show that there is life behind the control room screen.
The annoying thing for me is that in this specific genre, people are often chasing around the region so frantically that at some point you either don’t know anymore why they are where and what they are trying to achieve there, causing me to lose attention and interest, sometimes to the point of losing comprehension. After the fifth or sixth “Amman”, “Baghdad”, or “Damaskus” insert you just switch off the brains and wait for the next small-alley chase scene. Ridley Scott tends to lose himself in this kind of high-tech frantic, but the film still looks good, and so let him do it. Maybe he should sit down with Michael Winterbottom (http://www.information-society.de/Cine-Blog/2007/12/mighty-heart.html) at some point to re-learn some of the lessons about cinematic story-telling that he seems to have forgotten.

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