Syriana is one of those rare movies that push its audience to listen and make up their own mind, instead of telling them what to think. On the surface, the film looks like a complex political thriller, with plot twists and suspenseful scenes. However, if you dig a little deeper you will establish parallels with our reality in the 21st century, as it touches a very sensitive issue: the problems and oil in the Middle-East. It also brushes onto many other topics, such as American foreign policy, corporate corruption, the ascension to power and some aspects of Islam, in relentless and somewhat potentially shocking fashion.
I did not feel that the storyline portrayed a biased political agenda from the filmmakers; however it provided for a brutal depiction of current events. In a nutshell the story follows the major players in the war for oil control and in the Middle East, through multiple narratives. CIA Agent Bob Barnes (George Clooney) is handed a final mission to assassinate Prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig). The mission fails in an unpredictable scenario, which prompts Barnes to question himself about the purpose of the mission. After further investigation, he then realizes that he was just a small pond in a complicated and dangerous conspiracy involving government corruption, oil, and terrorism. At the heart of the corruption investigation are lawyers Bennett Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) and Dean Whiting (Christopher Plummer). They are both faced with a great dilemma in choosing between the government's interests and what is moral and ethical.
I found that the most fascinating aspect introduced was the battle to the royal throne by Prince Nasir and his brother, as their father, The King, is falling ill. Prince Nasir is a London based educated man that believes in democracy, women's rights, capitalism and economic freedom for Saudi Arabia. He brings to his side American Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon), an energy analyst expert, to help him figure ways to improve the economy without the help of foreign countries. .In stark contrast, his brother cannot think for himself, does not follow the same ideologies and just aspires to power and greed. The Americans lost a huge Oil contract in Saudia Arabia, which was awarded to the Chinese by Prince Nasir. Although, Nasir invokes all that America should want from a leader, they prefer his brother for the throne, as he will give them what they most desire: the Oil contracts. It is a jab at governments putting their own interest in front of what is the best possible for the world.
Director Stephen Gaghan used a handheld camera giving the film a documentary feel. Many scenes were shot on location adding to the realism and authenticity. George Clooney gave one of his best performances, as he learned to speak Arabic and put on thirty pounds for the role. The biggest flaw of the movie was the complexity of the plot, as it would have required running just a little longer to possibly tying everything together. Syriana could appeal to the mass audience, however it is much more than a fictional political thriller. Although, the characters are fictional the storylines may not be so far away from the truth. It is very refreshing to see a movie that does not necessarily have a political agenda, but just tells it how it believes it is.
- Eddy Chaar | 2005-12-12