Didactic and muddled to the point of incoherence, Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana is a two hour-plus lecture on the corruption of the American oil industry so wrapped up in its own Byzantine narrative logic that one quickly finds it near-impossible to make heads or tails of who’s who, who’s doing what and for what reason, and why any of it matters. George Clooney, Jeffrey Wright, Matt Damon, Christopher Plummer, Chris Cooper and Amanda Peet all appear as players in the film’s global conspiracy theories about the way in which U.S. meddling and deceit perpetuates instability in the Middle East in order to maintain a steady stream of Petrol to our shores. Nearly from the outset, Gaghen’s convoluted plotting is a model of opaqueness, a problem compounded by the writer/director’s vain attempt to mirror Stephen Soderbergh’s color-coded, lens flare-heavy Traffic cinematography. The cinematic equivalent of a political science graduate student’s dissertation – dry, intricate and emotionally unengaging – Syriana piles on so many facts, catchphrases, and mysteries that it feels like it should come with a heavy stack of footnotes. All that this inscrutable avalanche of details and un-suspenseful double-crossing generates, however, is the fictitious illusion that the movie is actually saying something relevant about our current geopolitical climate.