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December 30, 2005

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It sounds like the film will only highlight our need to drill for oil in Alaska.

This was perhaps the most important movie on the way in which our world really works, and to dismiss it as a "fictitious illusion" is a further sign of the ignorance that allows these sort of things to continue.

Well, and I'd say that calling Syriana "the most important movie on the way in which our world really works" is a sign of real ignorance.

I understand it aims to be important. Even more sad then, that its almost impossible to understand the story. Tell me about the lawyer for instance, why was he important, what did that character add to the story? What did his brother(?)do in the movie? Why was that relevant? Who betrayed George Cloney, and why? What did he find breaking into that old man's house? A written plot against him. For every scene I understood less and less. The story on the terrorist is "old news" and not particulary interesting. The story on Matt Damon. Without any logic, he moves quickly on and starts to work for the prince, and becomes totally enthusiastic about? It´s just not believable.

Jens

You totally missed the entire point of the movie. This movie is a picture of a complex maze. If it is difficult to comprehend this movie, it is because that the problem that it is depiciting is difficult to comprehend.

It is not supposed to be a thesis for a phd because the facts, catchphrases, and mysteries are not real facts, catchphrases, and mysteries meant to be digested and analyzed. Instead they are used to paint the maze.

What he is saying that is relevant about our current geopolitical climate is the complexity of the climate. For to solve a maze, you must first take a step back and see the whole picture.

If this movie was boring for you because you had difficulty keeping up with the story its because you mistook the paint from the painting.

Robert,

Good try. But the movie's incoherent complexity isn't designed to cannily reflect the intricacies of contemporary oil-and-big-business issues; it's simply a result of Gaghan's sloppy narrative construction.

Nick totally lost the point of the movie. The point of the movie is that Americans are mighty evil and can only be dealt with through terrorism.

That's what it says, that's what people understand, that's how the message is perfectly delivered.

What really bothers me is that the other side stands mute in awe instead of answering with their own rhetorics. When will Ann Coulter become a film-maker?

So, the film makers are now terrorists?

The movie showed a poor young man, that was welcomed by radical clerics turn to terrorism (probably in exchange for money).

Guess what... this happens. Many of the suicide bombers are offered large amounts of money to do what they do. Depicting that doesnt make you a terrorist, it just makes you a little more aware of the situation.

This movie shows enough corruption to go around... not just by americans. If it seems like americans are viewed as being like the corrupt oil exectives in this movie, perhaps in real life the americans should stop electing the corrupt oil exectives to office.

This movie wasn't hard to comprehend at all. The government betrayed Clooney because his operation failed and they didnt want to be connected with it. They didnt want him to talk to the press either so they put him under investigation. The lawyer was a macguffin to show the workings of the government, oil companies and law companies. The lawyers brother was just some guy who didn't him. They spent like 5 minutes on that. Who cares? It was just relevant to show that not everyone approved of what he waas doing. He didnt find anythign breaking into the old mans house, he was just trying to scare him. If you were appointed top advisor to a nation, wouldnt you be excited about it?

Most everything made sense. The addition of all the details and characters just made it more engrossing. Im surprised people found it confusing.

I just started watching this movie and at first I thought it was great and I got more interested i seeing how the personl conflicts of leaders, and the inter-twining of their families can totally affect the world. As for being betrayed by the US Government, that is like the oldest sotry in the book. Thats what happens when you work for a money hungry oil company (United States)

Movie was not as good as the hype. First of all, the movie is supposed based on the book "See No Evil" by Robert Baer (George Clooney's character). Baer retired from the CIA in 1997, never was tortured and obviously didn't die. If I remember correctly, his book talks much about Gore meeting with some shady oil guys, which is ironic since I'm sure Clooney made the movie as an idictment of the Bush administration. I guess the heart of the movie is in the right place, but the facts are not correct and presented as a muddled mess.

To Johnathan,

Forgot to add...In the book, the Clinton administration, not the Bush administration is ripped for its downsizing of the CIA. Baer is never "betrayed" as he is in the movie. don't believe everything you see in movies.

Reading the remarks of people that have seen this movie makes me laugh. It's like someone telling a joke with no real punchline just to see if someone admits they don't get it but, instead, being afraid that they might look stupid, claim that they do get it.


This film is confusing. Examples:

1) What was Christopher Plummber's real role - they never say. We just get the vague impression that not only is he an attorney and boss to Jeffrey Wright, but he's some kind of power broker representing the oil companies to side-step the justice department and topple foreign regimes. His background wasn't explored or developed - just alluded to. What manner of immunity allows him to stiffle and persecute a CIA operative?

2) Jeffrey Wright and his alcoholic brother, who gives a crap. He found evidence of miss-billings by the target merger company - why is this significant? And who the heck was the oil executive whom they visited to explain why they were using him as a scapgoat - was this all a diversionary tactic - if so for what reason?


3) Matt Damon, representing an "engergy trader" is sent to "sell" the prince - on what - that he's the only one that can advise him correctly on how to extract, distribute and sell oil? We're not sure because this story is never developed - just suggested. Instead, time is wasted on unimportant relationship issues with his wife - again, we are not sure why other than to make him look greedy.

4) George Clooney and his personal drama with his kids - again, who gives a crap. Can we know why the CIA is acting on big-oil's behalf. And I don't mean their motive as I'm sure I'll get the standard consipracy theory on how our government wants to disrupt foriegn governments to supply the US with cheap oil. I mean what were the mechanics of how this may have come about or do we just accept the conclusion that the government is in the back pocket of big oil?


Finally, there were intentional gaps in the story such as when Jeffrey Wright stood up at the merger meeting and began to address the board - what was said - we don't know. Also, when he sat down with the oil exec mentioned earlier - what was said - again, we don't know. Why might the merger between the oil companies not be allowed - we don't know. And finally what the heck did the terrorists have to do with this plot - that the US government and big oil drove them to it? Does this explain Islamic facist motivations - no - it's not related. If it is, we have no idea why. Retaliation or what?

You're asked to accept a supposed basic tennant of - that the US is corrupt and big oil is evil. But the how and why is left to your imagination. In other words, you are asked to accept something as fact with no proof. This movie is more irritating than provocative. The maker of this film is also obviously in the dark as to how the real workings of government and foreign policy exist as he couldn't develop the mechanics in his own movie.

KJ -

The film expects at least a passing familiarity with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the mechanics of antitrust regulation, topics that have been in the mainstream news for the past four years. References are made late in the film to GAAP - the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles - and the [post-Enron] confusion over whether accountants or attorneys should be responsible for corporate malfeasance. Thus the dialogue stating that while the Connex merger is a boon for stockholders (Connex is struggling at the beginning of the film in oil field productivity) and the American people (more and cheaper oil), at least a token effort is needed to demonstrate government's commitments to unearthing fraud (stated in the conversation between Wright and Cooper at the barbecue, where Wright needs one more guaranteed conviction to "give the illusion" of due diligence) lest a too-permissive attitude on the part of the Justice Department and later uncovering of scandals inside the company cause a public outcry. While this isn't spelled out for you in the story, simply listening to the dialogue (what did you think that line to Wright was about, where he was told that if he couldn't find something at Connex he "didn't know how to look") and considering the shape of corporate America since 2002 will allow you to make sense of it.

Obviously, the government is going to scrutinize the merger of two huge oil firms, as mergers ultimately lead to oligopolies and cartels - you said you can't understand why the merger wouldn't be permitted, but this is economics 101! No, even less than that - it's a lesson every high schooler learns with the stories of Rockefeller and Standard Oil, or every child implictly learns through playing Monopoly.

The fundamentalist subplot (or as you put it, the "Islamic fascist" subplot, making me wonder if you understand the definition of fascism) is, first, a counterpoint to Prince Nasir's scheme for reforming the country. Nasir, in his speech on how he would like to reform the country, is effectively barred from instituting changes by a pre-existing "American debt" and the influence of American business in hampering the operation of the free market (cf. Nasir's irritation over interference with the Chinese oil contract). The imam tells his class that liberal, modern societies have little to offer the Islamic world - only faith can address the failures of western democracy and Christian theology. Thus, we have diagnoses of the Mideast that agree on the cause of the region's ills (excessive American intervention) but go about it in very different ways (a return to absolute faith in the Koran vs. a parliamentary system of government promoting civil rights). Listen to Damon's character during his cell phone conversation as he compares Nasir to Ataturk, the great Turkish reformer, and you can draw a simple historical parallel to the Mideast at the beginning of the industrial age: some countries followed the liberal route (Tunisia and Turkey) and some the fundamentalist (Saudia Arabia, Iran), but all rejected the influence of the then-great colonial powers. The subplot is also an insight into the effects of large foreign corporations settling into economically underdeveloped regions of the world. What drove one of the suicide bombers to attack the oil rig? It wasn't faith - he dismisses that rationale in a conversation with his friend toward the end of the film - but instead the omnipresent concerns of reuniting his family (helping his mother to immigrate was repeatedly mentioned throughout the film) in a country where his father had steady work (but many did not, which drove them to the abundant food and companionship of the Islamic school). There is an implied criticism here of the socio-economic disparity wrought by a sudden, limited influx of capital and jobs into a country not fully prepared to handle it.

I'm surprised you couldn't understand what the CIA interest was in assassinating Nasir. It is spelled out towards the end of the film in a conversation between the CIA operatives themselves - Nasir rejected American military bases in his country, while his brother welcomed them. Given the American involvement in Iraq and interest in stabilizing the region (for commerical, security, or ideological purposes), the CIA was a useful tool to accomplish these ends, oil company interest notwithstanding.

Likewise, what was so difficult in understanding Damon's advisory role to the Prince? Time and time again (conversation Damon has with his wife, conversation with Nasir after the loss of Damon's son) we are told that Damon's firm, a large energy consulting business, is advising the prince on the most economic way to exploit his dwindling natural energy reserves, and how to invest in long-term capital investments.

Dismissing Syriana as opaque does it a great disservice. Attention to the dialogue and a willingness to consider how the issues join together (especially in a real-world context) are the keys to appreciating it. I'd seriously reexaming your own understanding of "the real workings of government and foreign policy" before you attack the filmmakers so quickly. Just your ignorance concerning why government might stop the merger of two huge oil companies indicates you have a long, long way to go.

I must say, I started this movie with high hopes, and the first 10 minutes or so made a lot of sense, and then it started to get more distracting (and somewhat pointless).

Having seen Traffic and enjoying the mesh of plots there, I can appreciate when complex story lines can be woven together to make a compelling movie. This movie is nowhere as believable or coherent an accomplishment as Traffic was.

In fact, this movie most closely resembles another incoherent piece that was swallowed up by its own sense of self-importance : Solaris

I found this film difficult to follow, but that's not an insult. It's subject is so complex it demands a complex weave plot and characters. Not everything has to be spoon-fed and easily digestable, it's OK if a film dares to challenge. There is a place for forgettable popcorn films and there's a place for films that reward second viewings and further research

Disjointed, confusing and a complete waste of time. Gaghen tries to be artsy- instead the outcome is an utterly useless abuse of great talent thrown together in a story that may have had great potential in the hands of a real director. It's almost like watching 8 movies at once- all bad movies. I hated this one.

Ultimately, a disappointing film. Pretentious and self-righteous, but worst of all, simply not tied together enough to follow it all. The film trots out all the standard Hollywood takes on contemporary American society: U.S. Government: BAD. Big Oil: BAD. Lawyers: BAD. Corporations: BAD. And, most disturbingly, Islamic terrorists: SYMPATHETIC. I keep waiting for Hollywood to make a movie in which life isn't quite so simple and predictable. Would it kill the Hollywood elite to challenge some of their preconceived notions about the world? A much more fresh and interesting movie that does just that: "Thank You for Smoking."

I really enjoyed this movie.

I think that every American should see this movie so that they have an idea of what goes on in the world. I am not saying this movie is gospel as to what goes on in the world, but it definitely paints a picture that ranges from broad to detailed.

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