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Syriana (2005)


Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 193
Fresh: 139
Rotten: 54

Critics Consensus: Ambitious, complicated, intellectual, and demanding of its audience, Syriana is both a gripping geopolitical thriller and wake-up call to the complacent.

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 48
Fresh: 41
Rotten: 7

Critics Consensus: Ambitious, complicated, intellectual, and demanding of its audience, Syriana is both a gripping geopolitical thriller and wake-up call to the complacent.


Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 225,875


Movie Info

From the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, a political thriller with multiple storylines that weave together showing the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power. As a career CIA operative begins to uncover the disturbing truth about the work he has devoted his life to, an up-and-coming oil broker faces an unimaginable family tragedy and finds redemption in his partnership with an idealistic Gulf prince. … More

R (for violence and language)
Mystery & Suspense , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Stephen Gaghan , Robert Baer
In Theaters:
Jun 20, 2006
Box Office:
Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Syriana

All Critics (197) | Top Critics (48) | Fresh (139) | Rotten (54) | DVD (30)

This is intelligent, committed, and politically provocative, though its narrative puzzle box may prompt you to throw up your hands and let ExxonMobil go on running the world.

Full Review… | March 30, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Its dark, dog-eat-dog vision of the world we live in may give you geopolitical nightmares.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Top Critic

Evidently, such matters of thematic coherence, so well explored by Gaghan in Traffic, were not as important to him this time around, and it's a mistake.

Full Review… | August 16, 2007
Time Out New York
Top Critic

It's entirely possible that Gaghan just isn't an actor's director.

Full Review… | October 7, 2006
Top Critic

Syriana impresses, not because it is very moving, which it isn't, or because it is crystal clear, which it also isn't, but because it is so large, so encompassing, so seemingly privy to inside stuff.

January 3, 2006
The New Republic
Top Critic

Watch closely and listen carefully during Syriana because Stephen Gaghan's movie is that rarity: a thinking person's drama.

Full Review… | December 9, 2005
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A skeleton of theme minus the meat of resonance

Full Review… | September 1, 2009

A film that treats its audience as adults, this is an extremely rewarding work that handsomely pays off the concentration required to watch it.

Full Review… | March 30, 2009

You didn't understand all of it? It went by too fast to take it all in? There was too much information to mentally digest? Yeah, well, that was kind of the point.

Full Review… | February 28, 2008

Probes a significant subject but treats its people as mere stick figures carrying exposition from place to place.

Full Review… | September 23, 2007

Preferring probing questions to pat solutions, the film drills deep in its exploration of the US's ventures, both economic and military, in the Middle East.

Full Review… | August 6, 2007
Eye for Film

The most troublesome part of Syriana is that the movie is, in fact, so easy to believe.

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
Big Picture Big Sound

Gaghan kapitulira pred holivudskim konvencijama te film zaklju%u010Duje spektakularnom, ali banalnom i krajnje neuvjerljivom zavr%u0161nicom

Full Review… | June 21, 2007

Politically-paranoid, if well-intentioned, this disjointed message movie doesn't really do much more than indict the usual suspects.

Full Review… | April 15, 2007
Upstage Magazine

In addition to the performances there's a wealth of memorable detail.

Full Review… | January 20, 2007
Observer [UK]

This is neither realism nor tragedy. It's cynicism, which exposes itself most nakedly in Damon's addresses to the Arab characters, and in Gaghan's own portrayal of them.

Full Review… | November 11, 2006
The Nation

Interesting and worth watching, despite the fact that complete comprehension of the film seems just beyond the reach of the viewer.

October 11, 2006
Christianity Today

The disorientation is purely cosmetic.

Full Review… | September 28, 2006
Sight and Sound

[K]eeps you on a teeter-totter of emotion... it leaves you with a sense of falling that is entirely unsettling.

Full Review… | June 25, 2006
Flick Filosopher

If there is any lesson the makers of Syriana want us to absorb, it is that we should trust no one where power and money are concerned.

Full Review… | June 20, 2006
Movie Metropolis

Syriana really makes viewers work to try to understand the complexities involved in protecting (or resisting) U.S. interests in the Middle East.

June 20, 2006

No one-sentence synopsis is possible, but here's a stab: A bunch of people, played by George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Christopher Plummer and others, stalk around looking serious and doing stuff.

Full Review… | May 12, 2006
Sacramento News & Review

Audience Reviews for Syriana


Syriana is not a film for everyone. It requires the audience to be extremely attentive, and may even require multiple viewings to be able to fully understand who is doing what, where they're doing it, and why they're doing it. The plot is so complicated and ambitious that at the beginning I found myself frustrated and annoyed that I didn't get it and that it was moving at such a slow pace. There are also multiple plot lines that never really have anything to do with each other except that the actions of one affects one of the other plot lines thus altering the outcome. But all these quibbles put aside, Syriana is a wake-up call to people who think everything is going well in the oil sectors of the world, it's got this docu-drama feel to it, and it rings true in every sense. George Clooney stands out amidst an outstanding cast. I think I'd need to see it again, and pay much closer attention to be able to fully comprehend and understand what was going on. Definitely go see Syriana, but see it when you are awake and prepared to pay attention.

Raymond Wieser
Raymond Wieser

Super Reviewer


An exhilirating movie that is fun to watch and interesting to think about. Clooney steals the show.

Jim Careter

Super Reviewer

"Syriana" is a rubrics cube of a film and like a rubrics cube, it can be maddening, unassuming and unsatisfying. But also like the game, "Syriana" can be immensely rewarding if given the proper attention. "Syriana" is not a film for everyone, hell, it's not even a film for most fans of "Traffic" (Stephen Gagan's other complicated screenplay about an endless geopolitical issue). I read in a review that "Syriana" is like trying to follow four separate chess games at once and I believe that to be extremely accurate. The characters in the film are 'professional liars' as one puts it, making it extremely hard to track their actions, but it's in that intense conflict where "Syriana" is it's most gripping. Figuring out who is connected to who (hint, they are all connected) and tracing how the smallest decisions can lead to death is fascinating. Everything about the film rings true, from the dialogue, to the locations, to the interactions. I also was really taken in by the themes of family. "Syriana" also works as an epic family crime saga. I use the term loosely because 'families' can be created on a whim in this film. It's interesting to see how the oil business (or epidemic? or addiction?) can corrupt every aspect of a (born or self made) family. Special note should be paid to the actors with George Clooney (in an Oscar winning role), Matt Damon and Christopher Plummer standing out. What solidifies "Syriana" as the defining political thriller of the 00s is Robert Elswit's (my favorite DP) cinematography. He makes the film cohesive when it seems as if it's going to fly off the rails. "Syriana" is a film we really don't see made anyone, a political thriller that zeros in a situation rather than a person to make a statement about a problem.

Steven Carrier

Super Reviewer

Syriana is a top notch, exhilarating political thriller film. Loosely based on the political memoir of ex CIA operative Robert Baer, See No Evil; Syriana takes a look at the impact of the oil industry as two important oil companies seek to merge in a new deal. What becomes of this merger unfolds into multiple subplots to the main story. Syriana's plot is riveting and multi layered, and is very complex. Some viewers will be confused while watching the film. I've seen this film at least five times, and I'm only now making sense of things happening on screen. Syriana is a pulse pounding thriller with non stop thrills and suspense. The cast delivers strong performances here. Most notably Chris Cooper and Jeffrey Wright. I know I didn't mention the films biggest stars, but I found these two actors to deliver some of the best and most intriguing performances of the film. George Clooney as well delivered, but to me, Chris Cooper really shined in this film, but I find that Cooper and Wright delivered the most blistering performances. In fact the entire cast was great here, but those two actors really brought the best out of this film. Syriana is a top notch political Thriller. I however cannot recommend this film to everyone as it's highly complex and it's very hard to understand as there are three subplots to the main story. Whatever your personal stance on this film, Syriana is a bold and powerful film that if you're interested in such subjects will definitely leave you in awe. This is the best political Thriller of recent memory and may be the best of 'its kind. Read Robert Baer's book See No Evil as well.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

Syriana Quotes

[Bob is tied to a chair with his hands on a table] Bob, your gonna give me the names of everyone who has taken money from you. [he pulls a fingernail from Bob's hand with a plier] Oh, that is disgusting.
Robby Barnes:
Jimmy, your not one of those Koran thumpers.
My name is Mussawi. [he pulls another fingernail from Bob. He then throws water at Bob's face and begins punching him violently in the face] You fucking fuck, stupid fuck, what the fuck! This is a fucking war! Your a P.O.fucking W! Give me the fucking names! [Bob hits his head against the ground, still tied to the chair] Fuck it. [in Arabic] I'm cutting his fucking head off. [he grabs a knife and kneels down to bob's head] I'm gonna cut your head off Bob.
– Submitted by David O (2 years ago)
Jimmy Pope:
Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why we win.
– Submitted by Richard D (3 years ago)
Bryan Woodman:
But what do you need a financial advisor for? Twenty years ago you had the highest Gross National Product in the world, now you're tied with Albania. Your second largest export is secondhand goods, closely followed by dates which you're losing five cents a pound on... You know what the business community thinks of you? They think that a hundred years ago you were living in tents out here in the desert chopping each other's heads off and that's where you'll be in another hundred years, so on behalf of my firm I accept your offer.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Bob Barnes:
I want you to take him from his hotel, drug him, put him in the front of a car, and run a truck into it at 50 mph.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

Discussion Forum

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