Tracking on Body of Lies isn't dazzling anyone today at Warner Bros., which has spent the last two months trying to push Ridley Scott's $100 million Leonardo DiCaprio/Russell Crowe war-on-terror thriller onto the top of this weekend's congested slate of new releases. Most forecasts place its opening gross around $17 million — likely enough to dispatch mildly aromatic new competition like Quarantine, City of Ember and The Express, but not nearly enough to guarantee a first-place finish ahead of Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Not. Acceptable. Is it too early to ask what the hell happened here?Warners may be the only studio that hasn't yet had its big Iraq-themed clusterfuck; that time appears to have arrived. (Its defunct subsidiary Warner Independent bungled the underrated In the Valley of Elah to a $1.5 million wide release last September, just one of the misfires that cost the mini-major its life.) Universal only opened with $17.1 million for last year's The Kingdom, and Paramount saw Stop-Loss die quickly this past spring, earning almost half of its $11 million total gross in the first week of release. So if Iraq and the war on terror aren't over yet as Hollywood themes, they probably will be when Monday rolls around. Critics aren't digging it either, but maybe even more importantly: Has Leonardo DiCaprio ever seemed more out-of-place than the Body trailers and TV spots?
It's worse than Blood Diamond, and we're facing it again with the upcoming Revolutionary Road. Audiences see more punchline than pedigree. From Warners to the White House, would you really entrust any matter of national security to this man? We'll have our own bold, pinpoint predictions about Body's fate in tomorrow's Defamer Attractions column, but for now, better safe than sorry, Warners: Watch out for chihuahuas.