Syriana

 
Directed by: Stephen Gaghan
Written by:Stephen Gaghan
Starring: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer, Amanda Peet
Released: February 16, 2006
Grade: A-

Traffic was an incredible motion picture.  It was released in early 2001 and went on to win four Oscars including best director (Steven Soderbergh) and best supporting actor (Benecio Del Toro).  The film focused on the drug war in America and looked at the problems from several perspectives.  It featured one of my favourite movie traits – where are there are several different stories which overlap as the film progresses.

Syriana has been written and directed by the Academy Award winner writer of Traffic, Stephen Gaghan.  It doesn’t take long to realise that Syriana is a very similar film in terms of its style and quality.  This time, Gaghan’s focus is on the oil wells of the Middle East.  You’ll sense that there’s much truth behind his tales of greed, power and corruption.

Looking like it was shot entirely with hand-held cameras, Syriana takes you inside a world that is kept hidden from the public.  Like Traffic, there are many interlinked stories.  It gets a little confusing at times but by the end of the film, you’ll feel the impact.  The highlight is a prophetic speech from actor Tim Blake Nelson on why America is the most successful nation in the world – because they are the most corrupt.

The film boasts a fine cast including Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper and George Clooney.  Clooney put on 16 kilograms for his role as an undercover operative and his work has not gone unnoticed having been nominated for an Academy Award this year.  I’m a little surprised that Clooney’s performance has been singled out.  He’s great, but then so is the rest of the cast.

Syriana is inspired by the Robert Baer book, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism.  Baer is a former CIA case offer who has used his novel to highlight some of the major problems within the organisation.

If you’re catching on, you’ll see that Syriana’s biggest fans will be those who have enjoyed other films which paint the United States in a negative light.  I speak of films such as Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Corporation.  The facts will always be disputed but at least these films make people think and get people talking.