Thursday, December 08, 2005

Syriana - 3.5 out of 5

The pedigree for this film is pretty good, Oscar winning writer in Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) and a long list of top-notch actors including George Clooney, Matt Damon and Chris Cooper. Based on the Book See No Evil By Robert Baer it a story packed with many different elements (and personal stories) that move towards a common climax similar in style to the film Traffic.

The performances in this film are all top notch with particular standout turns from Chris Cooper as an oil executive and Jeffery Wright as a corporate lawyer, both of which make you want to see more of them as they bring such energy to the screen. Gaghan used hand held camera to shoot the film (same as was done for Traffic) to give the film a more realistic feel to the movie, which works well in bringing you into the action.

The story is interesting in its exploration of the oil industry and its dealing within the US as much of the movie revolves around the merger of two Oil companies and how even though there is obvious corruption involved in some of the dealings the government is willing to be thrown a sacrificial lamb to ensure the merger and US interests. Also the US meddling in the Middle East politics siding with the status quo in Iran as opposed to actual progress in infrastructure and social reforms to maintain their supply of oil.

The main problem with this film is that it seems to lack individual stories that are as interesting as the overall tapestry. It seems that to with the large cast with many stories some haven't been given enough attention to flesh them out and make them as significant as they could be. Also having multiple stories had a huge impact on the pacing of the movie as it shifts between characters and scenes too quickie to gather any momentum. To me it feels like they have crammed a 3-hour movie into 2 hours.

Overall a very interesting movie especially considering how topical it is.


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