Sunday, January 13, 2008

Syriana (2005)

* * *

In just over two hours Syriana may say more about the oil industry than all other films about "big oil" combined. The film succeeds as an expose of the greed and corruption surrounding the industry, but if the inner-workings of oil and the spider web of political involvement are as confusing as Syriana, its no wonder it hasn't been stopped. No one can figure it out. Written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, the writer-director the multiple storyline Academy Award winner Traffic, Syriana weaves five or more stories together. George Clooney stars as Bob Barnes, a US government employee who finds himself caught up in the dealings of the oil business. Clooney gained over thirty pounds for the role, and is engaging and sympathetic in the role. Other narratives include characters played Matt Damon, Chris Cooper, and Jeffrey Wright, and the acting throughout is above average. The script is well written, illustrating the behind-the-scenes decision making, and is as educational as it is entertaining. Few films have as many meaningful things to say about a single topic and do so while maintaining the interest of the audience. Unfortunately, the tension that builds as the plots build and begin to entwine will never fully climax for most viewers. Although there is an emotional, possibly unforeseen conclusion, the revelatory epiphany will leave many viewers dissatisfied. The intricate script constructs a story that will leave no doubt as to the problems the entire planet faces concerning oil, but more time will be spent attempting to decipher the plot than debating the ethics and issues surrounding the oil industry.

Good for: fans of conspiracy films, Clooney fans, very smart people

Bad for: those who are confused or frustrated easily, people bothered by violence, people who ask too many questions

The Gallery
The Economist: * *
The Film Maker: * * *

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