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Body of Lies (Warner Bros.), the new Ridley Scott thriller about Iraq, is virtually indistinguishable from The Kingdom or Rendition or any number of terrorist-themed recent thrillers in which interchangeable Arabs in kaffiyehs do horrible things to the luscious physiques of A-list Hollywood stars. Certain moments are contractually required to happen in a movie like this: Camels will plod across the horizon as a woman's voice wails in Arabic on the soundtrack. An expensive-looking aerial shot will soar over CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., as a legend on the screen's lower left spells out, "Langley, Virginia." Jeeps will explode in the desert. Leonardo DiCaprio's forehead will perspire in extreme close-up. I will consult my watch.
It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working — bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming — all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned — reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone — one mind less, one world less.
The case for ending our long national nightmare.