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Syriana [HD DVD]

3.3 out of 5 stars 1,081 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.

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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: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,081 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000E5KJFM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #184,503 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.

Consider:

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.
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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.
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"Syriana" is a complex film about oil, terrorism, the government, and other related issues. It is so intricate, that it really cannot be described in a way to make it clear. There are, however, three main story lines. First, Bob Barnes (Clooney) is a Middle East CIA operative that is let go after he ceases to be helpful. Second, Connex and Killen are two oil companies that are merging. Third, Prince Nasir Al-Subaai (Siddig) is next in line to become Emir of his unnamed country, and believes that his country should not give in to the United States. These story lines, as well as the others, all come together in the end in a satisfying conclusion.

"Syriana" is a thinking person's movie. If you do not pay attention, you will get lost very quickly. But, if you pay attention, "Syriana" is highly satisfying. Structured like "Traffic" and "Crash", "Syriana" is a movie that makes you think. The cast is excellent all around, all providing their piece of the puzzle. Director Stephen Gaghan weaves the tale skillfully, bringing seemingly unrelated stories together for a fantastic finish. "Syriana" is definately not a movie for everyone, but I highly recommend this film.
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