From the writer of Traffic comes a twisty tale of greed, corruption, and complicity surrounding the global oil industry.
Stephen Gaghan is the director and writer of Syriana which feels like a really important movie given the explosive political climate in which we live. George Clooney is the star and executive producer is this mobile, journalistically-driven picture that was filmed in Dubai and Casablanca, among other locations world-wide.
The business that comes from the Persian Gulf has put financial pressure on so many, especially those trying to make ends meet during a winter season.
Clooney is part of Gaghan's convoluted interlocking storytelling as the portly, hirsute CIA agent Bob Barnes. Middle East terrorism has taken its toll on Barnes who has the means to have Prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig) assassinated. He's trying to pave the way for his son's college education, but will have to undergo fingernail torture as the actor and director of Good Night, and Good Luck is sharply self-effacing realizing what the agency has in store for him.
The lensing comes across with the same cinema-verite as Traffic as Gaghan works with immense ambition from ex-CIA operative Robert Baer's 2002 memoir, "See No Evil".
Geneva-based Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon) is a very efficient energy analyst who is able to get to Prince Nasir after a personal tragedy that leaves his wife (Amanda Peet) a wreck.
Jeffrey Wright is in highly cerebral close-vested form as Washington attorney Bennett Holiday who can serve his boss (Christopher Plummer) through a tricky oil merger of two companies, the huge Connex and lesser Killen ("killeen"). The latter is run by Jimmy Pope, the reliable Chris Cooper of Jarhead. Tim Blake Nelson is back in the same film with Clooney (after O' Brother Where Art Thou) as Pope's top hand Danny Dalton with plenty of verbal panache.
While Gaghan isn't on the level of a Steven Soderbergh behind the camera, there are incendiary images when it comes to the likes of the result of China's bartering with Nasir, a sensational Siddig. That comes from a Pakistan laborer (Mazhar Munir) who goes from life under Connex to the fundamentals of Islam.
One would be hard-pressed to know what is going on at all times in Syriana, which dares to give in the demands of big studios these days. An honest effort has to be made to see how the good and bad aren't what they seem and moral compasses changing faster than curveballs. While there really aren't any political leanings and true emotional power in this tangled mosaic, it dramatically makes the whiplash effect of Big Oil corruptible by those in the world-wide web of a superpower.