Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Movie review: Syriana
Last night, Carolina and I saw Syriana, a movie that aims to dissects the oil industry and the political and economic impact it has on both the United States and foreign governments. The formula was similar to Traffic, which tackled the illegal drug trade in the United States, and it's no coincidence- both films were written by Stephen Gaghan. The film follows a large number of characters: a disgruntled CIA agent (George Clooney), a corporate energy analyst (Matt Damon), two Gulf princes with opposite philosophies vying for their nation's throne, a corporate lawyer, two teenage Pakistani migrant workers recruited by a radical Islamic sect, and a lot of big, bad oil executives in the middle of a huge merger. Although the politically charged message that the United States will do anything, including assassinating foreign leaders, to protect its economic interest comes through loud and clear, the plot was way too confusing. The film would have worked if it had decided to focus on two or three of the story lines instead of inundating the audience with characters, but it didn't. There were too many distractions (the alcoholic father storyline, etc.) and plot twists, many of which are never really explained (like, who the hell was that guy who tortured George Clooney's character, and why?). Another problem was that it was hard to keep track of all of the old, rich, white guys with Southern accents; some were oil executives, some were lawyers, and some were politicians. The acting was solid all around, and Matt Damon was surprisingly good, but I felt frustrated watching this movie because the plot was so hard to follow. Afterwards, Carolina said " What's the point of making a movie so complicated that two Ph.D. students can't figure out what the heck is going on?" which pretty much sums it up. So, basically, the movie was confusing and made me feel stupid.