Reviewed by: Kotleta

"a multi-stranded and complex piece of work, during which at no point was I less than confused."

The trailer is misleading. This is not a straightforward political thriller, in which America saves the world with hi-tech weapons and big explosions - again. This is something far more interesting and demanding, a multi-stranded and complex piece of work, during which at no point was I less than confused.

George Clooney is a veteran CIA man, an ex-operative specialising in Middle Eastern affairs. Matt Damon is an energy analyst, whose life is torn apart by tragedy and commerce. There are Arabian princes, a few wives and children and everyone else is too faceless and corporate to differentiate. Middle-aged white men in designer suits merge into one as they sit round a boardroom table talking jargonistic BS to justify some kind of dodgy merger, tacitly acknowledged as corrupt by everyone. There are double-dealings, triple-dealings and possibly even quadruple-dealings and everyone is at least double-crossing somebody else. It's about oil.

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Syriana is a brave and powerful ensemble drama, with an undercurrent of righteous anger, but its very density may prove its downfall. By trying so hard to make a point, there is such a thing as too much information and the choppy editing only adds to the over ambitious tangle. That's not to say confusion is entirely a bad thing. In this instance, it reflects the shambolic nature of the political situation, which most of us would agree is important, but few really care about until the price of fuel goes up.

It is perhaps an accident of timing that Syriana's release is so soon after Clooney's Good Night, And Good Luck, which created real life echoes of fictional themes. The filmmakers have already been accused of "unpatriotic" behaviour in daring to criticise the current administration, when all either film really does is ask unpopular questions.

Syriana offers no answers, but it challenges complacency, which is an achievement in itself.

Reviewed on: 03 Mar 2006
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A high-octane thriller for adults that exposes US dirty tricks in the Gulf oil business
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Read more Syriana reviews:

Chris *****
Anton Bitel ****
Angus Wolfe Murray ****

Director: Stephen Gaghan

Writer: Stephen Gaghan, based on See No Evil by Robert Baer

Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper, William Hurt, Mazhar Munir, Tim Blake Nelson, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, Alexander Siddig, Max Minghella, William C Mitchell, Akbar Kurtha, Shahid Ahmed, Sonnell Dadral, Tom McCarthy, Viola Davis

Year: 2005

Runtime: 126 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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