Monday, July 02, 2007

Syriana (2005)

(First of all, who *cares* that George Clooney gained 30 pounds for this movie? Yay George and all, but big deal. We give more respect to actors who gain weight for their jobs than to... well, I don't know to whom, but people who would deserve it more. Not that he didn't do good work in the role (though I have to say I wish Harrison Ford hadn't turned it down). But still.)

Syriana is an ambitious movie about a complex question: What Is The Price Of Oil? The film follows several major characters whose storylines eventually become entwined. It can be hard to follow, especially in the first hour or so. That's OK. I don't need to be spoonfed. But it's important to pay attention. No fair running upstairs for more wine and then asking "what happened?" ;). Here's the setup:

An American energy market analyst (Matt Damon) becomes the emir's elder son (Alexander Siddig)'s primary advisor, a role maybe more dangerous than he thought. Meanwhile, a CIA agent (He of the Hyped Heft), just home from a mission in Iran during which a missile got into unknown hands, is assigned to arrange the elder son's assassination. Meanwhile, a D.C. attorney (Jeffrey Wright) works to perform due diligence on the proposed merger of two American oil companies, one of whom just lost a contract awarded to the Chinese by the emir's eldest son. Meanwhile, the emir's younger son, with the discreet help of another powerful American attorney (Christopher Plummer -- is it me, or is he appearing more and more often in these sinister roles?), is angling to become the next emir. Meanwhile, Pakistani oil field workers lose their jobs when the Chinese take over. Frustrated, demoralized and unable to find work, they are drawn to an Islamic fundamentalist group.

The plot is complicated, tense, intriguing. If you didn't think so already, you will certainly come away seeing that there are more layers, dangers, consequences and agendas involved with The Oil Problem than it might at first seem.

But you did think so already, didn't you? As interesting as Syriana was, and as good a movie as I think it is -- do see it if you haven't -- I just don't think it's quite the Important Film it believes itself to be.

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