Wednesday, January 25, 2006

SYRIANA: Insights into Global Oil

(political thriller)
Time: 125 mins
Rating: * * *
George Clooney and William Hurt
SYRIANA is not for the action fan or those who like the movie’s plot served neatly on a platter. For this ‘geopolitical thriller’, you will have to watch and wait patiently to catch the ‘big picture’ on the players of the global oil industry — and then realise that the ‘payoff’ is not what you expect it to be.

You realise that, perhaps, the ‘big picture’ is actually a complicated jigsaw puzzle of pieces that do not really fit, and that that is what the real-world Big Business politics is all about. Written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, based on Robert Baer’s book, See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in CIA’s War on Terrorism, Syriana is a cynical but ‘factual’ story with real-life parallels. It sets you thinking even after you have left the cineplex. Of course, if you are not patient enough to follow the subplots about wheeling and dealing, corporate mergers, betrayals and assassination attempts, this film will be just one big bore.

There are four basic plot strands. One deals with Robert Barnes (George Clooney), a veteran CIA field agent in the Middle East who is ‘cut loose’ by the government when he becomes a liability to their cause. Having sold military weapons to some shady people, he knows more than he lets on.

The second is about a corporate merger between two American oil companies, Connex and Killen. Killen, which is run by its CEO Jimmy Pope (Chris Cooper), is a smaller outfit than Connex but since it has acquired drilling rights in Kazakhstan, Killen has become an attractive partner to Connex. The merger has also attracted the interest of the government and lawyer Bennett Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) is brought in to investigate the deal.

The third deals with Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon), a trader based in Geneva who is assigned to propose a deal to the Emir of an unnamed Middle-Eastern nation. A family tragedy in Spain lands him a job as analyst to the Emir’s second son, Prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig).
And the last strand is about a young Pakistani labourer named Wasim (Mazhar Munir) who succumbs to the lure of radical Islam while working in the oil fields of the Gulf nation.

These four strands present insights into the global oil industry and they are woven into a complex fabric of intrigue and conspiracy. Director Gaghan (who wrote Traffic) fills the cast with familiar faces and allows them to flesh out their roles. Christopher Plummer is the boss of Bennett’s law firm, Amanda Peet plays Bryan’s wife, Julie, and William Hurt is the mysterious former colleague of Robert Barnes. Syriana is a thinking man’s movie that gets more fascinating at each additional sitting. Makes you want to get the DVD, doesn't it?


Post a Comment

<< Home