Saturday, December 10, 2005

film - Syriana

3 /5

This is the most complex film that I have seen in a while. It's the type of film that I would have to watch more than once to appreciate, as I didn't get a sense of who all the characters were and what their agendas were.

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Oil rich Gulf country's apparent next leader, a prince, decides to award a Chinese company the rights to drill natural gas, rights held by a big US company, who were outbid. The US company, who now tries to merge with a smaller US company who has won drilling rights in Kazakhstanin, one of the largest untapped oil reserves in the world. The company is such an unlikely candidate that the authorities begin to investigate what dirty deals took place. A DC law firm is hired to investigate the desired merger, to see if any laws were broken by either company by payoffs, etc. The Emir of the country is old and wants to retire and he has two sons. One is a Ph.D with shady connections to enemies of the US through arms deals, while the other is a young twentysomething, more open to cooperating with the US. A young oil worker is laid off, joins a madrass, comes under the influence of his radical teacher and has the makings of a bad guy...

Strong performances by the supporting cast, but George Clooney and Matt Damon's characters are not very dynamic and interesting. Unfortunately, the film fails to develop and weave the subplots together in a succinct fashion. I kept waiting for an "aha" moment when it would piece together in my mind nicely but that never happened. It's also a bit too slow.

Syriana is a timely film but it isn't clear enough to be a hit among mainstream audiences. Based on the book See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism by Robert Baer (2003.)

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