Body of Lies (2008)
Synopsis: An uncomfortable film that is mediocre and predictable at times but makes a valid argument about the problems of intelligence in different cultures and the efficacy of the methods of the War on Terror.
Go check out Operation Mincemeat for the back-story on this one.
Ridley Scott phoned this one in but Leonardo DiCaprio sold a quasi-believable CIA operative in the area who is fluent in all that that means. I thought Russell Crowe did a reasonable job as management but I think it would have added depth to see what shit rolled downhill onto him that he ended up passing it on to Ferris. Then there’s Mark Strong who knocked it out of the park especially since I just got done seeing him as the very damaged and English Prideaux in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Although things get over-simplified and the very valid efforts (efforts, not the means) of intelligence agents working on the threat of terrorist attacks are downgraded to focus on systematic failures, there is some worth to watching this movie at least once. If nothing else, it makes you sympathetic to middle management in the operations side of the CIA as they are subject to the same corporate bullshit (although the context is different) as the rest of us.
I’d say the take-home message should be that pragmatic skepticism and criticism of the efforts of intelligence agencies is good to a point but that it must involve some effort to understand what exactly it is that they are doing well and what it is that they are doing wrong and why. It’s not enough to simply complain without understanding anymore.