Who knew that a Ridley Scott-directed movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe about the capture of an Osama bin Laden-like terrorist before he strikes in America could be the worst crime against eyes since “Epic Movie”?
The big revelation this movie provides is that big name actors and a big name director can team up to create a movie so turgid, awful and downright boring that even a free screening at the I.V. Theater was a2 hour 8 minute crime; I spent the entire screening imagining all of the better, more entertaining ways I could be spending my time. Watching paint dry came to mind.
The “plot” of this movie makes halfhearted attempts at twisting and turning, but the characters and their interactions are so uninteresting that the effect is equitable to that of watching a very stoned person try to quietly drum up the courage to stumble to the pantry to get another 10 Twinkies.
Actually, watching that person would be way more stimulating than watching Crowe and DiCaprio put a first-class stamp on their performances in a second-rate movie. Roger Ferris (DiCaprio) plays a ground-level CIA operative in Jordan searching for terrorist Al “Don’t Call Me Osama” Saleem before he strikes another civilian target. Approximately an hour into watching DiCaprio do nothing much and Al-Saleem act kind of menacing, he and his boss at Langley, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), decide to team up with a computer hacker to create a false terrorist organization in an effort to sucker Al-Saleem into a meeting.
The only rub is that the real man they are setting up as the fake head of this “terrorist organization” is an architect. And Hoffman and Ferris don’t plan on telling him. And they think they can protect him. Along the way, the head of Jordanian intelligence, Hani Salaam (Mark Strong) puts DiCaprio and Crowe to shame scene after scene. Oh, by the way there’s a love story that is roughly as quality and believable as the one at the center of “Pearl Harbor.”
Admittedly, the scheme to bring down Al-Saleem is an innovative one. But the decision of the writer to have Hoffman and Ferris decide to put off telling the fake head of their organization that he is now supposedly an international terrorist seems like a limp commentary on American CIA incompetence at best, and at worst, a total brain-freeze on the part of everyone involved with the movie, right down to the production assistants.
If even the guy getting coffee couldn’t parse together that “hey, maybe letting the head of your mock-terrorist organization know that he’s the head of your mock-terrorist organization is not such a bad idea if you want to avoid bad things happening,” then this movie is more of a sad commentary on the state of creative self-awareness in Hollywood than it is a total failure to provide a single point of moderate interest. Believe me: That would be saying a lot.
The “romantic connection” between Aisha (Golshifteh Farahani) and Ferris is completely ridiculous. Apparently, in the minds of Scott and writer William Monahan, one person being a man and one person being a woman – and those two people being in the same room for about five minutes – is enough to spark a chivalric romance that motivates Ferris into some bizarre stupidity and another half-hearted attempt to shake the film out of its narrative torpor. The romance feels so tacked on and underdeveloped that including it in the movie is a kind of slap in the face; the belief a movie cannot be a movie without at least a spark between the male lead and the cute girl-next-door type is so hackneyed and stereotypical that the movie practically parodies itself.
But it doesn’t, because it sucks so hard that it doesn’t even qualify as unintentional comedy. I would compare this movie unfavorably to watching CBS’s inexplicably popular “Two and a Half Men” — uninteresting and not engaging visual garbage that fails so completely at even sparking a modicum of audience attention that it deserves some sort of award — maybe that’s what all those Emmys “Men” received were for — something excruciatingly heavy for Ridley Scott to wear around his neck until he produces something more entertaining.