Syriana (2005)

Syriana (2005)
  • Time: 126 min
  • Genre: Drama | Thriller
  • Director: Stephen Gaghan
  • Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, Chris Cooper


Syriana is a thriller of corruption and power related to the oil industry that tells four parallel stories: the CIA agent Bob Barnes with great experience in Middle East that falls in disgrace after an unsuccessful mission dealing missiles in Lebanese Republic; the investigation of the attorney Bennett Holiday related to the merge of two American oil companies, Connex and Killen; the traumatic association of the energy analyst Bryan Woodman with the son of a powerful emir of Emirate; and the social drama of the Pakistani immigrant worker Wasim Khan that is fired by the oil company.

One comment

  • Maybe there was one sub-plot too many, but this film is gripping right up to the conclusion. One would have to think that this film was almost intentionally murky in order to show just how complex the extraction of oil can be on a world-wide scale. Syriana is about a lot of things, and a lot of different people. But above all else, the movie is about the effect of the world’s dependency on oil.

    The two biggest stars are a puffed-up George Clooney and Matt Damon. Clooney is a shadowy CIA agent who gets in a bit over his head while trying to take out a foreign leader. He is then cut loose by our government and the blame for the incident falls on his shoulders. Matt Damon plays some sort of international investment guru who through an act of tragedy becomes the chief financial adviser to an Arabic prince who may or may not be about to take over his father’s country. These are just two of the many pieces of this thriller which also involves corrupt oil men in the U.S., poor Muslims who eventually have to become terrorists since there is no work for them, shadowy law firms, even more shadowy bureaucrats… the list goes on. The message of the film seems to be that oil dependency creates chaos, misunderstanding, and corruption. Most of what we see borders on pandering to our most basic fears and beliefs about every one of these types of characters, but the film really doesn’t seem that preachy when its all said and done. Of course the movie takes a jab at the U.S. and blames our country for the lack of infrastructure in the Muslim world while at the same time these Shieks bask in luxurious high-rise hotels and palaces around the globe.

    There is some violence, and it is unsettling. Only George Clooney could take a beating like the one he takes and still look like a movie star in the next scene! The acting is exceptional, and the locations used for filming look incredibly realistic. The film was a commercial dud, though, and it isn’t hard to see why. It is a little long, not exactly action-packed, and maybe too confusing for the average viewer. And when was the last time George Clooney headlined the cast of any profitable film that wasn’t an “Oceans” film? I suppose I could pounce on Mr. Clooney all day if I wanted to, but his performance is one of the strongest aspects of Syriana. And Syriana is a film with a lot going for it. See it, but don’t expect to completely “get it” on the first try. 8 of 10 stars.

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