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97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll either hate it or love it - I Love It!
I had to put a review up after I saw the low rating - now, I know I gave it 5 stars (this is a personal rating after all), but I'm going to help people a little here rather than, as one person below me has, just give their side.
Now, consider carefully what type of cinema goer are you? Do you only watch films for big noises and improbable story lines? Do you go...
Published on 27 Mar 2006

versus
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meandering storyline
This review is for the blu-ray. This film was certainly aiming big, taking on the oil industry, the problems of succession in family dominated regimes in the Gulf, radicalisation of young muslims and the convoluted role of the CIA. Just who are the bad guys again?

There were four different strands in the film that remained resolutely separate for most of the...
Published on 5 April 2010 by Mr. James West


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97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll either hate it or love it - I Love It!, 27 Mar 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] (DVD)
I had to put a review up after I saw the low rating - now, I know I gave it 5 stars (this is a personal rating after all), but I'm going to help people a little here rather than, as one person below me has, just give their side.
Now, consider carefully what type of cinema goer are you? Do you only watch films for big noises and improbable story lines? Do you go because you want to see good cinematography, with a genuine message? Or are you in the middle, and sometimes like either, depending on mood?
If you're the latter, give it a try when you're in a thoughtful mood, if you're the first of that list, probably not for you, if you're the second this is probably ideal (I myself don't mind admitting that I am the last of that list).
This is a truly thought-provoking, genuinly disturbing, and all too possible a series of situations, I would rate it as possibly the best film I will ever see.
Now, it has been accused of American-bashing by some americans (I have not seen a review outside of the US that has voiced this opinion) - but I believe it is unfounded. It is scathing to the global oil industry (and quite a few of these happen to be US owned) and to the US Governments attitude towards them in it's foreign policy, but this does not mean it's saying 'all americans are hateful'.
Give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Syriana, 14 Mar 2006
This review is from: Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] (DVD)
Directed by Stephen Gaghan - writer of Soderberg's superb 'Traffic' - Syriana is a complex and fragmented web of stories that aims to provide a snapshot of the ways in which the US pursues its oil interests in the Middle East. In the same way that Traffic examined the US' war on drugs in the context of its relationship with Mexico, Syriana throws a spotlight on the US' hypocritical dealings with Arab nations and the terror it provokes (both the state-sponsored kind and that of Islamic martyrdom). The film is unapologetically confusing, drifting between a raft of obscure, character-driven stories without any overt attempt to help the viewers orientate themselves. In a sense it doesn't matter - in the same way that it doesn't matter if you understand all the dialogue in the West Wing - the message and implications are engaging even if the details aren't clear.

Syriana is put together skillfully with good individual performances all round. It is shot in starched, bleached tones, be it in the desert or the encroaching skyscrapers, edifices of modernity that reflect a dazzling indifference. The camera work roams relentlessly in the manner of war reportage, adding to the sense of urgency and impending terror. There are few surprises in a film about corruption and fundamentalism - both Islamic and Capitalist - and the plot revolving around the brainwashing of a young muslim ex-oil worker into a suicide bomber is somewhat simplistic. The fragmented style, with loosely connected plots overlapping, could also be compared to 21 Grams, but it is the shadow of Traffic that looms over Syriana, which can't quite match the strength of that film's humanity (brought about by its strong individual characterisations, not least that of Benetio Del Torro). Nevertheless, it is an impressive work brought about by a burgeoning liberal film scene that - unlike Michael Moore - deserves to be taken seriously.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting movie that comprises several stories at the same time..., 21 Feb 2007
This review is from: Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] (DVD)
"Syriana", directed by Stephen Gaghan, is an engaging film that tackles many different stories at the same time. All of them have something in common, though: the oil industry, and the people that have some kind of relationship with it.

Despite the fact that it is a little difficult to keep track of the diverse stories that "Syriana" comprises, it is well worth the effort, due to the fact that it allows the spectator to understand what is at stake for different people in the oil industry, and how a decision made by one of them affects the rest. What does Bob (George Clooney), a CIA operative, has to do with a poor immigrant who works in an oil field, or with a young reformist prince (Alexander Siddig)? And what do a broker (Matt Damon) and a lawyer (Jeffrey Wright) that don't know each other have to do with all of them? Oil, power, corruption and manipulation are the main subjects in "Syriana". This film is fiction, but some of its elements could well be truth, and that makes you think.

On the whole, I think "Syriana" is a complicated movie, but one that deserves your time and attention. If you don't mind the fact that you must follow several stories at once, and that this film is undeniably serious and doesn't have any kind of comic relief, I think you will enjoy "Syriana". I know I did...

Belen Alcat
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Meandering storyline, 5 April 2010
By 
Mr. James West "Nebulous" (Aberdeen, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is for the blu-ray. This film was certainly aiming big, taking on the oil industry, the problems of succession in family dominated regimes in the Gulf, radicalisation of young muslims and the convoluted role of the CIA. Just who are the bad guys again?

There were four different strands in the film that remained resolutely separate for most of the way through - certainly long past a point where I wanted to see them begin to connect.

Ultimately the result of this was that there wasn't enough character development, meaning I just didn't care enough about any of them, by the time the conclusion arrived. George Clooney gave an interesting performance as a CIA agent who was out of his depth, Christopher Plummer was very good as the seasoned oilman pulling the strings, and Matt Damon had his usual boyish charm, but it didn't really work in the aftermath of his son's death.

Picture Quality was not as good as I would have liked either. Colours were muted, there was some grain visible and the definition was nothing to write home about. Highlights were desert scenes, and some of the white flowing arab robes that really stood out from the background and drew the eye.

Sound quality was also a mixed bag, with a Dolby 5.1 track being the main offering. The sound was up-and-down, with some of the dialogue in particular appearing almost muffled. I found I had to adjust the volume on my TV to try and keep up.

All-in-all I really wanted to like this film. Far too often films trivialise the serious issues of the day, or are afraid of tackling big subjects because of the risk of offending someone. This film certainly deserves plaudits for being willing to try, but in my view it didn't quite make it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the impatient but a reward for those who are, 10 Sep 2007
By 
RICKY ROCK (Mevagissey, Cornwall) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] (DVD)
Having read several of the reviews of this film, I can see it obviously divides viewers between those who rented it expecting "Ocean's Twelve" or one of the "Bourne" films ... and those that didn't (necessarily).

Needless to say those in the camp of the former are bound to be disappointed but to fair to them some of the criticisms levied about the film being convoluted were shared by others who professed to enjoying the film. I didn't particularly find this to be the case. Maybe I was just too thick to realise I was missing anything but as a whole, I think the overall plot was simple enough to follow and didn't think you needed to wrestle with the minutae of the various political machinations to get the gist of what was going on.

Having said that, it undoubtedly helps if you at least have an interest in international current affairs. For people that do, this film is worth investing your time in, as it will entertain. Granted, the entertainment is somewhat depressing but it is a fine illustration of the links between the nefarious world of the oil business, USA foreign policy in protecting its interests in this regard, and the roots of terrorism:

(SLIGHT PLOT GIVE-AWAY ABOUT TO FOLLOW SO BE WARNED!!!)
I am not an apologist for terrorism in any form but if this film has any message it is that terror is exercised by many people in many forms. The parallel between the two bombings towards the end of the film asks us to question what and who is more culpable. The organised, "civilised" governments of the "free world" who seek to impose their will and control upon others? Or the disenfranchised populations of those long exploited countries who seek desperate representation in whatever illusory lies of hope and solace they can find when their so called governments fail them?
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My film of the Year, 17 Nov 2006
By 
This review is from: Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] (DVD)
This is a complex and challenging film. You need a clear head and good concentration to follow the storyline but if you give it your attention this film will reward you with excellent performances and a compelling plot.

It is a real departure from all the fluff that George Clooney is best known for and it feels like he has finally grown up in this role.

Syriana, whilst bearing some similiarities to "Crash" and "The Constant Gardener" is, in my opinion, the strongest of the three and the most gripping in terms of the plot.

A real must watch film.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 7 Sep 2006
By 
N. R. Sennett "jack" (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] (DVD)
This movie has to be one of george clooneys finest a darn sight better than his disappointing good night and good luck.

it is a political thriller about how the west exploits the middle east by taking their natural resources while preventing them to build the infrastructure to reap the full benefits. it has many storylines which all come together at the end (similar to 'crash'). i was warned before watching the film that it is very confusing and i first i was daunted as there are lots of short seemingly irrelevant scenes. but as long as you take in some of it it will all come together in the end in a thrilling finish that had me on the edge of my seat.

once you've calmed down (which you will need to do) u will realised just how rewarding a film it is, i sat for several minutes running the film over in my mind and thinking about the message, and how relevant it is today.

clooney is fantastic and daemon is also very good, overall one of the best films i've seen this year
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Petropolotics, 18 Nov 2007
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This review is from: Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] (DVD)
Strong cast in a tightly woven drama from which nobody comes out clean. You need to pay close attention to the plot but it is well worth it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You'll need to concentrate,but "Syriana" is worth the effort., 20 Sep 2007
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This review is from: Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] (DVD)
This film by Stephen Gaghan(who wrote the script for "Traffic") is long and involves various sub-themes which eventually intertwine at the climax.
It should be made clear to any potential viewer that if you're watching this because you liked "Ocean's Eleven",you will be very puzzled and irritated-no car chases,not many laughs,and an attempt to depict the way the USA interacts with oil-producing countries.
It takes a little mental effort to keep up but the main themes(George Clooney's CIA officer,the oil sheik,the migrant workers in the Gulf,and the despirited oil exec played by Matt Damon)are clear enough,and the way the stories are brought together is well done.
It isn't your standard Hollywood fare-as I said,you will heve to put some effort into watching this,and it is implicitly critical of the behaviour of the superpowers(first Britain and France,later the USA and USSR)in the Middle East during the 20th century,not what your average Hollywood exec would think is good box office.Good to see Clooney is still committed to making offbeat,politically aware films.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A demanding but highly rewarding experience..., 2 April 2007
By 
S. Driscoll (Tokyo,) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] (DVD)
Ignore those people that talk about the complexity - or lack of - plot in this movie. They have all missed the point. The whole issue of the US involvement in th Middle East is clearly too massive to document in a two-hour movie; I think this movie assumes a certain level of understanding from its audience; that the complexities and corruptions of the oil industry are virtually impenetrable to the layperson, but that we have a basic overview of what is involved - CIA, pipelines, insider dealing, political machinations, palm-greasing and vast amounts of money and invested interests,

This is moviemaking at its best, challenging you to concentrate on a series of strands of story which although initially thrown at you with little introduction, come to a gripping conclusion. The implications of the actions of the various characters (rather like in Traffic, or even Magnolia) can only become apparent at the end - and even then you will still have to do some unravelling! Your efforts will be rewarded.

Characters mount up at the start and a great deal of concentration is required to keep track. Important points in the plot are not always signposted - some are snatches of conversation, ambiguous and cryptic.

Camera work and locations are stunning, music used sparingly, dialogue rings true and has been trimmed expertly.

Performances are excellent across the board, and though Mr. Clooney heads the cast, any number of support players (they are all support players really, I suppose) match him for intensity and believability. The end game, where the plot threads are (kind of) tied up, offers a sad demise for some characters and perhaps a glimmer hope for others. But the overall feeling is that the corruption and destruction of lives will continue in the real world - a somewhat depressing, but immensely powerful and thought-provoking conclusion. Who are the good guys, who are the bad? This film doesn't patronise us by trying to tell us, though one (obvious) conclusion might be that there aren't any good guys in this particular story.

If you demand a "Spot the Dog" narrative structure, soap opera emotions and a neatly bundled up ending where the hero gets the girl from your "action" movies, avoid this and rerun Bad Boys. Otherwise, take a chance on Syriana, and dare to expand your mind AND be entertained!

Also recommended: Traffic; All the President's Men; Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (DVD and book); Memento; Bad Boys (you'll need it after that lot)
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Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006]
Syriana [DVD] [2005] [2006] by Stephen Gaghan (DVD - 2006)
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