Syriana

Syriana

3.3 16
Director: Stephen Gaghan

Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright

     
 

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Oil drives greed in Oscar-winning Traffic screenwriter Stephen Gaghan's labyrinthine sophomore directorial effort that traces the corruption of the global oil industry from the backrooms of Washington, D.C., to the petroleum-rich fields of the Middle East. Based in part on the writings of former CIA case officer Robert Baer, Syriana combines multiple

Overview

Oil drives greed in Oscar-winning Traffic screenwriter Stephen Gaghan's labyrinthine sophomore directorial effort that traces the corruption of the global oil industry from the backrooms of Washington, D.C., to the petroleum-rich fields of the Middle East. Based in part on the writings of former CIA case officer Robert Baer, Syriana combines multiple storylines to explore the complexities that befall a proposed merger between two U.S. oil giants. Reform-minded Gulf country prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig) is in favor of making his nation more self-sufficient rather than U.S.-reliant, and his money-minded Western connections couldn't be less pleased. Before settling into a cushy desk job for the remainder of his career, CIA agent Bob Barnes (George Clooney) is sent on one last assignment -- to assassinate Prince Nasir and reinstate U.S. ties in the oil-rich region. Though his loyalty dictates that Barnes carry out his current mission despite lingering doubts of a previous blunder, his mission goes horribly awry when his field contact goes turncoat and Barnes becomes a CIA scapegoat. Meanwhile, up-and-coming Washington attorney Bennett Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) attempts to walk a fine line in overseeing a tenuous merger between two oil giants that's plagued with shady business dealings. Hotshot energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon) is in talks to form a lucrative partnership with Prince Nasir, though the death of his son during a party at the prince's estate makes him question his loyalty to business over family. Back in Washington, D.C., Bennet's boss Dean Whiting attempts to undermine Prince Nasir's attempts to make his country less reliant on the U.S. dollar by planting the seeds of dissonance between the progressive prince and his money-minded younger brother Prince Meshal (Akbar Kurtha).

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Provocative and engrossing, Syriana takes an uncompromising look at our nation's dependence on foreign oil and the inevitable consequences of that dependence. Oscar-winning Traffic screenwriter and sophomore director Stephen Gaghan explores the nexus of American business interests, foreign policy, and political intrigue, using multiple, intertwined story lines to explore how our national thirst for oil has produced a subculture of corruption that, in one way or another, touches us all. The film's tapestry of protagonists includes George Clooney in an Academy Award-winning turn as a jaded CIA operative sacrificed by superiors seeking to avoid responsibility for failed strategies. Matt Damon also impresses as the manipulative financial adviser to a progressive Arab sheik, Star Trek veteran Alexander Siddig, whose stated priorities make him a threat to Big Oil interests. The other main threads concern an ambitious corporate lawyer, played by Jeffrey Wright, who cuts deals with federal prosecutors investigating the suspicious merger of two petroleum companies; and an expatriate Pakistani youth (Mazhak Munir) driven by hopelessness into the arms of Islamic terrorists. Gaghan's sweeping criticism indicts the system that allows oil companies to reap huge profits and satisfy American consumers while disenfranchising Middle Easterners who feel increasingly powerless to control their own destiny. Syriana is a movie that demands much from its viewers; being marginally well informed about current international affairs can only help. Even so, you'll occasionally find it difficult to tell the good guys from the bad guys -- which is likely what Gaghan had in mind all along
All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Syriana utilizes topical subject matter in order to put a human face on complicated world events. The film tells a very intricate story in that the actions of over a dozen characters all impact the others. Putting all the pieces together might require more than one viewing, but the performances are so vivid and the filmmaking so assured that one never feels lost during a viewing. With this many characters and plot threads it is easy for directors to trip, but Stephen Gaghan manages to make each scene feel like it is in the right place at the right time. The film shows an obvious debt to not only Steven Soderbergh's Traffic (which Gaghan scripted), but also such gritty, paranoid '70s films as All the President's Men. George Clooney plays very much against type as a burned-out CIA agent, based on a real CIA agent whose nonfiction book served as the jumping off point for the film. His performance exudes a weariness that he has never shown before. The most underappreciated actor of his time, Jeffrey Wright turns in yet another pitch-perfect performance as a lawyer who keeps his motivations hidden. Matt Damon does angry and articulate as well as anybody, and he benefits greatly from some outstanding speeches. These performers, and all of the others as well, help keep the sprawling film to a digestible experience. The political content of the film is pretty basic; Gaghan simply hopes to show the human price paid when government and big business are so closely intertwined as to be almost indistinguishable.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/20/2006
UPC:
0012569807723
Original Release:
2005
Rating:
R
Source:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen, Color]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time:
2:08:00
Sales rank:
40,237

Special Features

Closed Caption; Additional scenes; A conversation with George Clooney; Make a Change, Make a Difference; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
George Clooney Bob Barnes
Matt Damon Bryan Woodman
Jeffrey Wright Bennett Holiday
Chris Cooper Jimmy Pope
William Hurt Stan Goff
Tim Blake Nelson Danny Dalton
Amanda Peet Julie Woodman
Christopher Plummer Dean Whiting
Alexander Siddig Prince Nasir Al-Subaai
Mazhar Munir Wasid Ahmed Khan
Nicholas Reese Art Riley Woodman
Mark Strong Mussawi
Max Minghella Robby Barnes
Fritz Michel Security Guard
Akbar Kurtha Prince Meshal Al-Subaai
Viola Davis Marilyn Richards
William C. Mitchell Bennett Holiday, Sr.
Nicky Henson Sydney Hewitt
Robert Foxworth Tommy Thompson
Peter Gerety Lee Janus
David Clennon Donald Farish III
Nadim Sawalha Emir Hamad Al-Subaai
Shahid Ahmed Saleed Ahmed Khan
Sonnell Dadral Farooq
Jamey Sheridan Terry George
Tom McCarthy Fred Franks
Jayne Atkinson CIA Division Chief

Technical Credits
Stephen Gaghan Director,Screenwriter
Sarah Bradshaw Associate Producer
George Clooney Executive Producer
Ben Cosgrove Executive Producer
Alexandre Desplat Score Composer
Robert Elswit Cinematographer
Louise Frogley Costumes/Costume Designer
Daran Fulham Art Director
Elizabeth Greenberg Casting
Petur Hliddal Sound/Sound Designer
Alan Hook Art Director
Jennifer Fox Producer
Georgia Kacandes Producer
Avy Kaufman Casting
Lora Kennedy Casting
Elizabeth Kirkscey Associate Producer
Shannon Lail Associate Producer
Andrew Menzies Art Director
Michael Nozik Producer
Laurent Ott Art Director
Jeff Skoll Executive Producer
Steven Soderbergh Executive Producer
Tim Squyres Editor
Lucinda Syson Casting
Simon Warnock Asst. Director
Dan Weil Production Designer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Syriana
1. Men in Fog [1:43]
2. Replacement Batteries [4:16]
3. Connex-Killen [3:46]
4. Services No Longer Required [6:00]
5. National Security [5:31]
6. Do People Live Here? [4:45]
7. Shark and Minnows [2:38]
8. Working Waterfront [4:22]
9. A Stupid Question [5:05]
10. Graduation Present [5:04]
11. It's a Great City [2:33]
12. Hawks in Desert [3:27]
13. Date With Ikea [2:59]
14. Southern Suburbs [4:28]
15. Good to Have You Back in Town [4:42]
16. Hotels and Lobbies [3:10]
17. Method Number Three [3:15]
18. Terry's Office [4:21]
19. This Is the Oil Business [3:26]
20. Mareva Injunction [3:36]
21. Domesticity [2:47]
22. Why We Win [4:58]
23. Frozen [2:45]
24. Tribal Leaders [4:02]
25. Innocent Until Investigated [5:39]
26. Cricket [2:08]
27. The BBQ [1:43]
28. Remote Control [5:18]
29. A White Flag [4:15]
30. Predators [2:16]
31. The Dhow [3:15]
32. Return [2:18]
33. End Credits [6:50]

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Syriana 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
before i saw this movie i was expecting a fast paced and suspensefulll movie. all the critics were calling it a masterpiece, so i decided to see it for myself. after the first 30 minutes of the movie i was completly lost. it seemed like the entire movie was talk, talk and more talk, with the occasional fights or explosions. it got to a point were i just gave up, because everyhting they were saying made no sense to me! in my opinion this movie is not as nearly as thrilling as they advertised it. if you are into these kinds of movies go seet it.but if you are looking for a fast-paced action, sunpense thriller movie, syrriana is not for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All the big wigs in Hollywood were saying how great this movie was and how wonderful George Clooney is in it. Being a sucker that I am, I went and rented it. What a mistake! This movie is just one boring scene after another. I guess all you have to do is make a movie that shows America causing all the problems of the world and you'll have everybody in Hollywood kiss your butt. I just wish they would make BETTER movies showing how bad Amercia is. Maybe I would take their side. Don't waste your money. Wait until it comes out on T. V.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie had so much potential, and the director just failed to live up to it. The basic story line was great, the characters were very well developed, but when it came right down to telling the story, I had a hard time keeping my eyes open. To be perfectly honest, I fell asleep half- way through the movie. I had to go grab a cup of coffee just to make it through the film. The director could have really made this into an (as they say) action packed, edge of your seat thriller, instead it turned into a boring pretentious lecture about current affairs starring King Pretentious himself, George Clooney.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Jameson Thottam with some thoughts on Syriana Oil, is perhaps the most precious natural resource on the planet and also one of the most controversial. It powers industry and the economies of many nations, yet the regions that contain the largest amounts are often the most unstable, and this instability often results from the influences of the very nations that purchase the oil. It is a tenuous situation where buyer and seller are wary of one another and at times regard the other as a necessary evil. The money paid for the oil has made suppliers and handlers rich and powerful, but many on the outside of this privileged circle believe that greed has caused both sides to lose focus on what is most important for the people of their nations. Back to the Film (Jameson Thottam) In the film Syriana viewers follow the paths of different people from various walks of life who for the most part do not know one another, yet are all linked by the same cause, oil. The Characters (Jameson Thottam) There is the C.I.A. agent Bob Barnes (George Clooney), who spends time in locales such as Iran and Beirut eliminating threats to national security. A lawyer, (Jeffrey Wright), who is caught in the middle as he attempts to find, and if need be eliminate damaging material that can prevent a pending merger between two oil companies. There is the grieving energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon), who deals with his loss by siding up with a powerful Prince, (Alexander Siddig), even at the alienation of his family. There is also a displaced Pakistani worker who after losing his job when a Chinese company acquires the refinery where he worked, falls in with a group of radicals with a militant agenda. The above is just a small sampling of the characters as there are numerous business, political, and Middle Eastern citizens who all play very prominent parts in the story. The Key Focus ( Jameson Thottam ) The main focus of the film is not only to illustrate the connectivity between the characters but to show how politics and big business influence policy in oil rich nations and how through secret deals, political intrigue, and treachery policy in and towards the same oil producing nations are set into place and maintained. While this is not much of a shock to people who follow the news, it is the way that director Stephen Gaghan uses ordinary and in some ways unremarkable people to tell the story and how it affects those who deal with oil. The Complexities ( Jameson Thottam ) Even those who are supposed the big players are often simply being played by forces outside their control in a world where reality and perceptions are often miles apart. The complex nature of the story is actually a model of simplicity as cause and effect, as well as the ability of big business to influence lawmakers is what drives the film. The cast is strong especially Clooney and Siddig who make their characters sympathetic while at the same time captivating. The contrast of the men who are a Prince and an agent, yet whose destinies often cause them to walk along the same paths is amazing. Closing (Jameson Thottam) Syriana is an amazing film that is so complex in its simplicity. The basic message is very clear, yet the layers that must be uncovered like a tangled web of lies in telling the story is a far reaching journey that will shock and anger most viewers. Some may find fault with a so called liberal agenda to the film, but politics aside, “Syriana” is a very captivating and entertaining film that makes you think. Review End Jameson Thottam
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many people found the movie boring, but that may be because of the nature of the subject matter. If you're looking for an easy-to-understand movie where you don't really have to think or do anything else, then Syriana is not for you. Be prepared to watch certain parts over again, but it's worth it. For those who understand the plot, Syriana actually IS an action-packed movie. It might help to read a summary online before watching the movie, so that you understand the plot. Don't write the movie off within the first half-hour or so. Stick with it, stay awake, and keep your mind open. You'll be surprised with what you discover.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is two hours I will never get back. I believed the hype that it was a film worthy of my attention, but was sadly disappointed. Although the acting was good, the plot was just too confusing to keep up with and I consider myself a pretty well-read person. The ultimate conclusion I made with this movie is that Oil Companies rule the world and America is addicted to oil. You can get from the nightly news for free. Save your money folks and wait for this one on cable or better yet regular TV
Guest More than 1 year ago
Another film in the vein of Traffic. Soderburg and Gaghan are a wonderful team at directing pictures filled with complex political issues without being sensational. Its filled with much-needed insight into this tremendously troubled world where the oil companies have an almost fascistically financial grip on our political system. Prince Nasir was a great model of what America does to people of progressive instincts that might interfere with American business interests.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is so confusing that I couldn't figure out what was happening. And George Clooney wasn't even hot in it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where do I start, well the acting is great the plot is ok. However what really got to me was the entire movie. The movie was very draggy and boring. It was confusing because most of the time I got lost everytime I yawned.The point is if you like long,draggy,boring movies then this defenetly your movie.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
People do not like this movie for a combination of three reasons: 1) They do not understand the movie 2)They are looking for an action movie and they don't want to have to follow the plot or 3) they don't like the message of the moive. If you don't fall into one of those three catagories, you should love this movie. As much as I hate to say it, I think our society really does act like this behind the scenes. SYRIANA is a complex movie that touches all aspects of our current times. Like one of the reviewers said, "For those who understand the plot, Syriana actually IS an action-packed movie." Take a chance and follow the movie closely, you'll be pleasantly suprised and intrigued.