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.


El Guapo said...

Gaghan didnt direct, he executive produced. Director was the guy who wrote Traffic as well as this one, another Steven.

I think the clusterfuck of charcters and plot is very intentional and its a movie which is purposefully smarter than the first-time viewer. The disjointed feeling I left the movie I think was the writer's whole point. It was like snapshots of all these fucked up, complex things all spiraling together.

Everybody felt stupid when they left, which we should when big oil companies are doing whatever the fuck they want.

I love Clooney in this, he's dark and tragic, unlike the majority of the other crap he opts for. I actually even found myself not hating Amanda Peet, she's bugged the fuck out of me in other movies.

eileen said...

Whoops, got my writers and directors mixed up, thanks for the correction. Anyways, Clooney was awesome in it and still hot even with the beard. Hmmm...I see your point, because all of the confusion does make you think about the film long after you leave it. Although I still think a bit of streamlining certainly wouldn't have hurt.