TEAMING Leonardo DiCaprio with Russell Crowe in a film about terrorism directed by the great Ridley Scott would, you might think, automatically lead to early Oscar speculation.
That may have been scuppered, however, by the decidedly mixed reviews which have greeted a story which may have been torn from today’s headlines but which has also been distorted to the point of James Bond fantasy.
That 007 analogy can be taken further than you think if you stretch the imagination and regard DiCaprio as Bond, Crowe as M and the story to be 007 taking on the might of Al-Qaeda and tracking down Osama Bin Laden.
This isn’t too far removed from the actual plot which has DiCaprio’s American intelligence expert in the Middle East trying to destroy a terrorist organisation by creating a fake rival and then plotting to bring down its elusive leader - an operation being masterminded from Washington by Crowe’s morally dodgy supervisor.
Credibility starts to stretch to breaking point when we witness DiCaprio suffering more torture than Daniel Craig had to endure in both of his Bond films put together and then our hero has an out of the blue romance with an Iranian nurse - a relationship that could get them both killed.
Performances are good, though, especially from Britain’s Mark Strong as the charismatic leader of the Jordanian security services, and Scott’s visual flourishes are occasionally inspired while the sheer topicality of the subject matter overcomes some of the flaws.
STAR RATING: ***