Syriana promised to deliver an intriguing story about oil and the Middle East. If you think about it, you can immediately see how it could work. You have oil tycoons, American politicians, intelligence agencies, Middle Eastern rulers, terrorists, and other people all connected in interesting ways. In this movie, you have George Clooney as CIA operative Bob Barnes, Jeffrey Wright as Bennett Holiday from an oil company, and Matt Damon as energy analyst Bryan Woodman. Regarding these characters, I will mention one important fact about these three characters: they are rarely in the same scenes.
If you’re going to have a movie with interconnected plotlines, you need to intersect them in the same frames. Otherwise, you’d have to search really hard to even see any connections. That’s one of the problems I had with Syriana. You’re expecting to see the glue holding everything together, but by the last scene of the movie, everything going on still feels distant from each other. In contrast, I could just watch the news and connect the dots involving oil and the Middle East.
Also, the film focuses too much on the big picture without developing each smaller one. Syriana is no different from any other movie in that you want a plot and characters that engage you. None of the plotlines had characters that I got to know well enough, not to mention that the events of each plotline moved very slowly and failed to keep my interest. The only scene that was promising was the merger of two oil companies and how this affected the jobs of several workers in the Persian Gulf. The setup was there but nothing memorable followed.
All of this made the film almost emotionless for me. If you don’t have plot, characters, and themes, you don’t have emotion. That is the reason we watch movies in the first place. We want to follow along with what we’re seeing on the screen. We want something to take us away. Syriana just didn’t do it for me.
Overall, if I were in charge of making this movie, I would inject real drama into each scene. I would keep each scene focused on advancing the plot and not spend too much time on dialogue that neither advances the story or develops the characters. These are suggestions, of course. I still give credit to the filmmakers for trying to make this film the way they did. I have no doubt that some people do like this movie. For me, I expected a lot more.
Anthony’s Rating: 3/10