In the wake of a Manchester terror bombing, Samarra-based CIA operative Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) goes on the hunt for a Bin Laden-esque figurehead, attempting to smoke him out by inventing his own fictitious rival terror cell, complete with an innocent Dubai architect (Ali Suliman) as its unwitting leader. Meanwhile, back at the Langley ranch, Ferris’ jaded superior (Russell Crowe) watches everything remotely from his comfortable remove. Working with Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed), Scott devises a new kind of war movie for a new kind of 21st century war, showing us the War on Terror as it is being waged on the ground, in the air and, most of all, in cyberspace, tracing the flow of strategic information from BlackBerrys to satellites to the 21st-century war rooms where all the world—seen from above on a wide-screen JumboTron—resembles one giant video game. Control-alt-delete: You’re dead.
“Smart and tightly drawn; it has a throat-gripping urgency and some serious insights, and Scott has a greater command of space and a more explicit way with violence than most thriller directors.”
—David Denby, The New Yorker