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Syriana (Widescreen Edition)
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From writer/director Stephen Gaghan, winner of the Best Screenplay Academy Award for Traffic, comes Syriana, a political thriller that unfolds against the intrigue of the global oil industry. From the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, the film's multiple storylines weave together to illuminate the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power. As a career CIA operative (George Clooney) begins to uncover the disturbing truth about the work he has devoted his life to, an up-and-coming oil broker (Matt Damon) faces an unimaginable family tragedy and finds redemption in his partnership with an idealistic Gulf prince (Alexander Siddig). A corporate lawyer (Jeffrey Wright) faces a moral dilemma as he finesses the questionable merger of two powerful U.S. oil companies, while across the globe, a disenfranchised Pakistani teenager (Mazhar Munir) falls prey to the recruiting efforts of a charismatic cleric. Each plays their small part in the vast and complex system that powers the industry, unaware of the explosive impact their lives will have upon the world.
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Despite the fact that it is a little difficult to keep track of the diverse stories that "Syriana" comprises, it is well worth the effort, due to the fact that it allows the spectator to understand what is at stake for different people in the oil industry, and how a decision made by one of them affects the rest. What does Bob (George Clooney), a CIA operative, has to do with a poor immigrant who works in an oil field, or with a young reformist prince (Alexander Siddig)? And what do a broker (Matt Damon) and a lawyer (Jeffrey Wright) that don't know each other have to do with all of them? Oil, power, corruption and manipulation are the main subjects in "Syriana". This film is fiction, but some of its elements could well be truth, and that makes you think.
On the whole, I think "Syriana" is a complicated movie, but one that deserves your time and attention. If you don't mind the fact that you must follow several stories at once, and that this film is undeniably serious and doesn't have any kind of comic relief, I think you will enjoy "Syriana". I know I did...
The worst (that is, the most boring) of the four story lines is the one where Jeffrey Wright plays a lawyer investigating possible corruption in an American oil company merger. It's very difficult to make this kind of material cinematic, and writer/director Gaghan doesn't succeed. Many of the characters involved in this plot make speeches that are meant to be thought- provoking, but they come out of nowhere and are just as quickly forgotten. Better is the story about the young man training to be a terrorist: it's easy to follow, and shows us something not usually depicted in movies. Still, sandwiched between the other plot lines, it feels like a shallow exploration of how terrorists are made.
George Clooney, with his beard and weight gain, is certainly unrecognizable in his role as CIA employee Bob Barnes, and his acting is competent. But if he hadn't been involved in "Goodnight and Good Luck" this same year, I doubt he would have won the Oscar for this performance. Even here, he is outshone by Alexander Siddig, who plays Nasir, a reformist Arab prince. In a movie that tries to show the complexities and gray areas of Middle Eastern oil politics, Nasir is perhaps the most complex of all: spoiled and ambitious, but with noble ideals.
Also, for a movie that wants to be an intelligent exploration of the oil industry, why is the Iraq war mentioned only once, in a throwaway line?
The plot of "Syriana" is pretty complex, but the situation is relatively simple. One the oil producing nations of the Persian Gulf signs a deal to supply its oil to China, which was what the Texas-based oil company Connex wanted to do. Meanwhile, Killen, a small oil company, signs a deal to drill for oil in Kazakhstan, so Connex strikes a merger deal, which gets the attention of the U.S. government because there are things here that do not add up (unless you think in terms of petrodollars).Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Made me understand the business of oil, hard and shifty,Published 3 days ago by madeleine champagne
A gritty story about the interactions of two Americans with the complexities of the Arab culture in the Middle East. An intelligent film.Published 11 months ago by Norrin Radd
Service and delivery were great but I did not realize it was wide screen until I received it. Harder to watch.Published 16 months ago by Tony Mandarano