(In theaters, October 2008) Never mind that this adaptation seems to have dispensed with the rationale for the original novel’s title: Even in a pumped-up, slightly dumbed-down Hollywood version, this story has the heft of a solid contemporary thriller, not unlike Syriana even if it doesn’t satisfies as completely. As a look at current American covert intelligence operations, it’s credible and merciless: the lack of compassion is biting, the rivalries are omnipresent and even the so-called good-guys have their less-admirable qualities. It’s slightly too long for its own good, but director Ridley Scott delivers the goods when comes the time to deliver the showcase sequences: There’s a jeep/helicopter chase early in the film that makes little tactical sense, yet crackles with energy. Throughout, we’re treated with superb cinematography and capable acting: While the spotlights will go to a scruffier-than-ever Leonardo DiCaprio and a rotund Russel Crowe, two of the film’s most remarkable performers, in entirely different registers, are an unflappable Mark Strong as a jordanian spymaster and an irresistible Golshifteh Farahani as an Iranian nurse stuck in the middle of an espionage plot. The best part of the film is how it’s absorbed like a good novel, watching the pieces set up and running in different directions. It’s hardly perfect, but it’s pretty good at what it tries to do, and that’s already not bad.