Syriana Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ April 4, 2012
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.
Super Reviewer
½ March 27, 2011
An exhilirating movie that is fun to watch and interesting to think about. Clooney steals the show.
Super Reviewer
March 20, 2011
"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.
Super Reviewer
September 10, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
July 26, 2010
Eh. Good performances, nothing you haven't seen before and a lot of work to follow.
Super Reviewer
½ May 26, 2006
Syriana cleverly poses a global problem: the world is addicted to oil and there isn't enough for everyone and most of the oil is in unstable governments. Although Syriana is excellent at showing what not to do, it has no clear solution of its own. Geroge Clooney's Oscar winning role.
Super Reviewer
September 17, 2009
Proper review to follow. Too tired. --Serious film, brutal 5 minute torture scene. Its quite a complicated story but I think the director managed to pull it off quite nicely. The trailer is a bit deceiving though.
Super Reviewer
½ July 24, 2007
Honestly, I fell asleep a few times during this one. I love Jeffrey Wright, and George Clooney really impresses me sometimes, but this was just too long.
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2006
A triumph. Powerful, riveting and electrifying. Chilling, compelling, magnetic, devestating and totally unforgettable. A brilliant, first-rate, exciting, gripping, searing, scorching and enaging drama. Thrilling and explosive. Intoxicating, whip-smart and incrediably enthralling. An edge of your seat thriller with a major political message that tells it like it is. It demands real attention. It's one of those rare and great films that actually has something to say. A gripping story of oil, terrorism, intrigue and politics. A superb multi-layered plot that boils and thrills. An astonishing all-star cast. George Clooney is outstanding. A demanding and searing performance. Matt Damon is teriffic. Chris Cooper is fantastic. Jeffrey Wright is great. Alexander Siddig is fantastic. The rest of the cast also turn in brilliant performances.
Super Reviewer
July 5, 2008
I was really surprised that this film didn't get a lot of notice outside of Clooney's performance (which was amazing). I thought the story of Amanda Peet and Matt Damon was just as effective and the ending was badass. Stephen Gaghan is a talented writer, but with a cast like this, it's not that hard to direct.
Super Reviewer
May 30, 2006
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 yes, on behalf of my firm I accept your offer.

A semi-follow up to Traffic, writer Stephen Gagan, who won an Oscar for Traffic, this time serves as both writer and director of a film set around business concerning oil companies, government involvement, as well as the people living and working in the middle east. It combines an ensemble cast and a tight screenplay, to form a complicated but interesting story.

There are a number of story threads, some of which connect to the other, so I'll layout the basics. George Clooney plays an aging CIA spy who becomes a scapegoat. Matt Damon plays an analyst who becomes involved with a Prince's plans for his countries reconstruction following a tragic event. Jeffrey Wright plays a young lawyer looking to go over the details of a merge between two oil companies. And their is also a plot surrounding a Pakistani teen seeing his world in a new light and attempting to take action.

There is a wide assortment of other actors involved as well, including Christopher Plummer, Amanda Peet, Chris Cooper, William Hurt, Alexander Siddig, and Tim Blake Nelson. They are all superb in their roles, making it particularly helpful in a film this complex.

While the commodity in question is Oil, it certainly doesn't make much of a difference, this story surrounds the role of business in an area that fuels its profits and the concerns of the various countries and people involved.

Certainly this film takes a some effort in order to fully understand every aspect, which is why it works better on repeated viewings. However, the way the film delivers a lot of information works in its construction. In particular, the first third of the movie works in throwing the viewer into all these situations, before finally beginning to pull the various threads together and discern what is going on.

Bryan Woodman: Beirut, it's great. It's like the Paris of the Middle East.

Also, while the performers are strong and the story is compelling enough, it does lack some of the entertainment factor to make it more suitable for general audiences, as well as the visual polish that makes a film like Traffic much more memorable.

Still, this is a very good movie, which uses a relevant topic to provide for an interesting story full of good performances.

Bob Barnes: Intelligence work isn't training seminars and gold stars for attendance.
Fred Franks: What do you think intelligence work is Bob?
Bob Barnes: I think it's two people in a room and one of them's asking a favor that is a capital crime in every country on earth, a hanging crime.
Fred Franks: No Bob, it's assessing the information gathered from that favor and then balancing it against all the other information gathered from all the other favors.
Super Reviewer
½ November 10, 2006
Syriana is a complicated film, with a style reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh's "Traffic" and the work of Alejandro Gonzalez Iņarritu (Clooney's role reminds me a little of Amores Perros' "El Chivo")... The direction and writing are great, so are the photography and the score. George Clooney was good, but definitely not Oscar-winning good (he was far better in 2007's "Michael Clayton", a film very similar, plotwise, to Syriana)... Kudos to George Clooney, who gained a lot of weight for this role and finally separated from his "hunk" status to be considered as a serious actor...Matt Damon and Chris Cooper also give strong performances.
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2006
The performances are good, and it's an intelligent and very relevant film, but it's very polarizing. This is not a film for people who aren't into current events, politics, and the importance of oil, and how it affects many aspects of what goes on in the world/
Super Reviewer
½ March 4, 2008
Takes a while to adjust, don't know if it is Oscar worthy but it's a growing film.
Super Reviewer
March 18, 2007
Confusing, but never hard to follow. That in itself is an achievment.
Super Reviewer
½ May 30, 2007
Complex and very mature look at the true price of oil. Coming in from all perspectives to analyze it's subject and themes. Crash should have been something like this, effortlessly juggling multiple story strands and always progressing the story without compromising on pace.
Super Reviewer
½ October 19, 2007
Very well casted political thriller confused me from start to finish, but I still was entertained while trying to figure out what was going on.
Super Reviewer
March 17, 2007
Quite reminiscent of Traffic, this multi-layered story examining differing political elements revolving around the oil business is complex (almost too much so) and fascinating, but fails to engage on a personal level as you never get to really know any of the characters involved. It is a brave and politically objective film, but I'd hardly call it hugely entertaining. More Edutaining, and worth watching at least once for that reason.
Super Reviewer
July 14, 2007
Shocked by the attacks on America. Quite anti-America and the war.
Super Reviewer
May 27, 2007
An interesting movie, but next-to-impossible to follow the details. The politics of oil are dirty and complicated.
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