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Syriana [HD DVD]

3.4 out of 5 stars 486 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Big oil means big money. Very big money. And that fact unleashes corruption that stretches from Houston to Washington to the Mideast and ensnares industrialists, princes, spies, politicos, oilfield laborers and terrorists in a deadly, deceptive web of move and countermove. This lightning-paced, whip-smart action thriller grips your mind and nerves with an intensity that doesn't let go for an instant.

DVD Features:
Additional Scenes
Documentary:This 30 minute piece bfollows director Stephen Gaghan from concept to production.
Featurette:Make a Change, Make a Difference
Interviews:Conversation with George Clooney Conversation with Matt Damon


Syriana is an oil-based soap opera set against the world of global oil cartels. It is to the oil industry as Traffic was to the drug trade (no surprise, since writer/director Stephen Gaghan wrote the screenplay to Traffic): a sprawling attempt to portray the vast political, business, social, and personal implications of a societal addiction, in this case, oil. A major merger between two of the world’s largest oil companies reveals ethical dilemmas for the lawyer charged with making the deal (Jeffrey Wright), and major global implications beyond the obvious; a CIA operative (George Clooney) discovers the truth about his work, and the people he works for; a young oil broker (Matt Damon) encounters personal tragedy, then partners with an idealistic Gulf prince (Alexander Siddig) attempting to build a new economy for his people, only to find he’s opposed by powers far beyond his control. Meanwhile, disenfranchised Pakistani youths are lured into terrorism by a radical Islamic cleric. And that’s just the start. As in Traffic, in one way or another all of the characters’ fates are tied to each other, whether they realize it or not, though the connections are sometimes tenuous. While Syriana is basically a good film with timely resonance, it can’t quite seem to measure up to Gaghan’s ambitious vision and it very nearly collapses under the weight of its many storylines. Fortunately they are resolved skillfully enough to keep the film from going under in the end. To some viewers, Syriana will seem like an unfocused and over-loaded film that goes, all at once, everywhere and nowhere. Others will find it to be an important work earnestly exploring major issues. In either case, it’s a film that deserves to be taken seriously, and it’s likely to be one that will be talked about for a long time to come. --Dan Vancini

Product Details

  • Actors: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet, Kayvan Novak, Amr Waked
  • Directors: Stephen Gaghan
  • Writers: Stephen Gaghan, Robert Baer
  • Producers: George Clooney, Ben Cosgrove, Elizabeth Kirkscey, Georgia Kacandes, Jeff Skoll
  • Format: Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: Arabic, English, French, Persian, Urdu
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 20, 2006
  • Run Time: 128 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (486 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E5KJFM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #183,093 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Syriana [HD DVD]" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
I would say this plot offers up more suspense and intriguing details than any Tom Clancy movie I've ever seen. It wasn't until about an hour into the story that things finally started to make sense. But, from that point on, I was hanging onto every word and piecing together every detail.

The trick to understanding this movie before it's over is to remember the names. Once you get to the point when you know who's who, everything else unfolds from there.

So, what's going on?

Matt Damon is a financial advisor to Prince Nassir. Prince Nassir's family just approved a deal for the chinese to come in and set up shop as oil drillers, as the chinese offered the highest bid.

However, the US wants to cut the chinese out of the picture so that the newly merged connex and the smaller oil company can do their thing in place of the chinese.

So, now we're at that scene when the old guy is talking to Prince Nassir's younger brother on the yacht. What you have to infer is that the "wish" that Nassir's younger brother wants the "cat's paw" to grant is to have his older brother, Prince Nassir, assassinated. In return for the favor, the US will get the oil contract instead of the chinese.

That's when the CIA have George Clooney arrange for Prince Nassir to be assassinated. However, you know that doesn't work out. You might recall the torture scene. After Clooney narrowly escapes certain death, the torturer threatens to reveal the CIA's assassination attempt to the media.

Next we see Clooney threatening the old man in the cafe. A trusted former co-worker had informed Clooney that the old man is setting him up to be the fall guy for any negative backlash resulting from the exposure of the failed assassination attempt.
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I won't try to restate or expand upon previous reviews found here for Syriana. Many contributors have offered a better reviews of the content of Syriana than I could describe.

But I will point out that whether Syriana is for you or not, has more to do with the movie-goer, than the movie itself.


1) Can you check your political prejudices at the front door?

2) Are you willing to attempt to follow four "chess games" simultaneously?

3) Have you the courage to feel really upset at the end?

If you can answer "YES" to all three questions, then Syriana may just be one of the most worthwhile movie releases of 2005.

If you answered "NO" to any of these points, you'd better pass on Syriana.
3 Comments 111 of 122 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Gagan's ideas based film -- while lacking the visual virtuosity of Traffic -- raises some very interesting questions indeed. But all is lost to a collective audience who thinks the "24" is complex and challenging or "Crash" is deep...

It seems that the US audience are so used to "film as pure sensory entertainment" that it infuriated them when nothing is resolved. I find most "bad reviews" (either here or in the press) are laced with misinformation, xenophobia, partisanship bias and juvenille comments. It is unfortunate that doing a narratively complex film offering an alternative view (esp. regarding terrorism) would incite more hate and ignorance as opposed to dialogue.

I find the film to be very well made and the issues it raises are very interesting (esp to those informed in Network systems and the Chaos theory), to a certain extent, Matt Damon, the actor and the narrative his character carries is the weakest part of film and is what I assume a concession to the joe q public -- to present the point of view of an "Average Joe".

Syriana stands proudly alongside The Insider, The Constant Gardner, Traffic and to a lesser extent, Munich (which wraps its ideology in easy to digest Thriller genre conventions ) in honoring the "New Cinema" of the 70s when filmmakers pushed against the grain, but unlike the 70s, there is no longer an like-minded audience (except for the critics) here in the States. I would predict the film to do a lot better in the rest of the world.
Comment 62 of 71 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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MOVIE: Syriana is another entry in the political thriller, or maybe more like a political drama. It sits in the similar style of The Constant Gardener, which was released earlier this year. The film is filled to the brim with detail and every line of dialogue is meaningful to the plot in some way. Unfortunetly there can be times where so much is going on that it can be hard to follow. The film demands the attention of the audience, but if you have ADD that can be hard in this movie. This movie boasts an ensamble cast, which means that no one actor really stands out at the main character. You can argue that George Clooney is the main character, but then again Alexander Siddig gives a scene stealing performance as the Prince Nasir Al-Subaai. Each character has their own story in this intertwining plot of corruption, blackmail, and back stabbing. The plot centers around two major oil companies forming a merger, what it takes to make a profit and how power is abused to get it. The film has two very thrilling scenes. One is a torture scene that will actually make you cringe, and the beauty of it is that it makes you cringe through the magic of editing. You never actually see anything graphic, but it will make you cringe nontheless due to the fantastic acting. The next scene is actually the climax of the film, and it has a great build up, if you're watching intently it should make you jump out of your seat. Now for the political side. The film is from the new production company, Participant Productions. The company has a goal of producing films that are important reflections of world events, while still making an entertaining film. North Country and Good Night & Good Luck were both released this year under participant. This film tackles the current oil crisis that is going on the in middle east.Read more ›
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blinded by the propaganda
Complicated and Confused?

I didn't think so. Sure it may not be edited for the attention span of most of our culture's movie-goers, but as long as you are paying attention, there isn't much confusing about this pic at all. I never really understood that criticism of this movie.
May 16, 2006 by Daniel S. Thompsen |  See all 5 posts
I am confused as to why this isn't being released. Any info on this? Is it a content issue? Very strange...
Mar 17, 2006 by Juan Colivar |  See all 2 posts
Hopefully they are making it a very good DVD well-worth buying. If there is any other reason why it is not being released, especially for content....well...then I won't be happy. I missed this one in the theaters. I'm sure it's release will be announced in a few weeks. Hopefully.
Mar 26, 2006 by Matthew B. Mclean |  See all 3 posts
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Syriana [HD DVD]
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