Syriana (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes

Syriana (2005)



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

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. A corporate lawyer faces a moral dilemma as he finesses the questionable merger of two powerful U.S. oil companies, while across the globe, a disenfranchised Pakistani teenager falls prey to the recruiting efforts of a charismatic cleric. Each plays their small part in the vast and complex system that powers the industry, unaware of the explosive impact their lives will have upon the world.more
Rating: R (for violence and language)
Genre: Mystery & Suspense, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Stephen Gaghan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jun 20, 2006
Box Office: $50.8M
Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site


George Clooney
as Bob Barnes
Matt Damon
as Bryan Woodman
Jeffrey Wright
as Bennett Holiday
Christopher Plummer
as Dean Whiting
Chris Cooper
as Jimmy Pope
Robert Foxworth
as Tommy Thompson
Amanda Peet
as Julie Woodman
William Hurt
as Stan Goff
Max Minghella
as Robby Barnes
Tim Blake Nelson
as Danny Dalton
Nicholas Reese Art
as Riley Woodman
Jamey Sheridan
as Terry George
Tom McCarthy
as Fred Franks
Viola Davis
as Marilyn Richards
Jayne Atkinson
as CIA Division Chief
William Charles Mitc...
as Bennett Holiday Sr.
Nicky Henson
as Sydney Hewitt
Peter Gerety
as Lee Janus
David Clennon
as Asst. Attorney Gener...
Alexander Siddig
as Prince Nasir Al-Suba...
Fritz Michel
as Security Guard
Akbar Kurtha
as Prince Meshal Al-Sub...
Nadim Sawalha
as Emir Hamad Al-Subaai
Mazhar Munir
as Wasim Ahmed Khan
William C. Mitchell
as Bennett Holiday, Sr...
Shahid Ahmed
as Saleem Ahmed Khan
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Syriana

Critic Reviews for Syriana

All Critics (198) | Top Critics (47)

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

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

Full Review… | October 7, 2006
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

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 Quotes

Mussawi: [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.
Mussawi: 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 (4 years ago)
Jimmy Pope: Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why we win.
– Submitted by Richard D (5 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 (5 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 (5 years ago)

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