December 9th, 2005



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Still of George Clooney in SyrianaSyrianaAmanda Peet at event of SyrianaStill of Matt Damon and Amanda Peet in SyrianaStill of Jeffrey Wright in SyrianaStill of George Clooney and William Hurt in Syriana

A politically-charged epic about the state of the oil industry in the hands of those personally involved and affected by it.

Release Year: 2005

Rating: 7.0/10 (66,649 voted)

Critic's Score: 76/100

Director: Stephen Gaghan

Stars: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Amanda Peet

A missile disappears in Iran, but the CIA has other problems: the heir to an Emirate gives an oil contract to China, cutting out a US company that promptly fires its immigrant workers and merges with a small firm that has landed a Kazakhstani oil contract. The Department of Justice suspects bribery, and the oil company's law firm finds a scapegoat. The CIA also needs one when its plot to kill the Emir-apparent fails. Agent Bob Barnes, the fall guy, sorts out the double cross. An American economist parlays the death of his son into a contract to advise the sheik the CIA wants dead. The jobless Pakistanis join a fundamentalist group. All roads start and end in the oil fields.

Writers: Stephen Gaghan, Robert Baer

Kayvan Novak - Arash
George Clooney - Bob Barnes
Amr Waked - Mohammed Sheik Agiza
Christopher Plummer - Dean Whiting
Jeffrey Wright - Bennett Holiday
Chris Cooper - Jimmy Pope
Robert Foxworth - Tommy Barton
Nicky Henson - Sydney Hewitt
Nicholas Art - Riley Woodman
Matt Damon - Bryan Woodman
Amanda Peet - Julie Woodman
Steven Hinkle - Max Woodman
Daisy Tormé - Rebecca
Peter Gerety - Leland Janus
Richard Lintern - Bryan's Boss

Taglines: Everything is connected


Official Website: Warner Bros. [Japan] | Warner Bros. [uk] |

Release Date: 9 December 2005

Filming Locations: Annapolis, Maryland, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $50,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $374,502 (USA) (27 November 2005)

Gross: $50,815,288 (USA) (16 April 2006)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

In the original script, Bob Barnes was originally named Bob Baer, after Robert Baer's father.

Audio/visual unsynchronized: At the beginning of the movie, when the woman changes her clothes and puts pants on, she also changes from high heels to sneakers. When she walks away, her shoes sound like high heels.

[first lines]
Arash: Bobby, where have you been?

User Review

The Price We Pay

Rating: 10/10

"Syriana" is a blistering, powerful film about the degree to which governments and corporate conglomerates place the ambition to control the world's oil supply above the well being of their citizens and employees. In this game, there are only bad guys, and what separates the villains from the protagonists is not a question of who's good and who's bad, but rather how bad each is willing to be.

So maybe "Syriana" doesn't tell us anything new. But that doesn't mean its points aren't worth making again and again. And though it is complicated, and I'm not going to pretend I followed every detail of its intricate plot, it's not *that* hard to follow. Stephen Gaghan is a good writer, and he provides a nice summary of the film's action in its final moments.

What emerges from this tangled puzzle is a web of corruption and self-interest, all fueled by the need for oil. In one plot thread, the men behind two soon-to-merge oil companies will stop at nothing to make the merger go through, since the new company will be one of the most powerful in the world. In another thread, the law firm representing the company proves that it's eager to cash in on the company's new economic success. Meanwhile, a power struggle between the two sons of an aging king in an unspecified Middle Eastern country (though Saudi Arabia is obviously suggested) has attracted the attention of the American government, operating through the CIA. America (read American business) has a vested interest in which of the king's sons succeeds him to the throne: It doesn't want the reform-minded eldest son, whose priorities will be building a country to benefit his own people; it wants instead the younger son, who will continue to relegate his country to a cosy spot in America's hip pocket and take its orders directly from the president of the USA. And in the film's most chilling plot strand, we see how the struggle for oil feeds the radical Islam movement in the Middle East, providing young men with a feeling of brotherhood and righteousness in the face of a region they feel has turned its back on them in favor of big business and Western corruption.

"Syriana" is tense, fast and furious. Following it can admittedly be somewhat exhausting, but if you pay very close attention to the first hour or so, as each story is introduced and the relationships between characters become clear, the second half of the movie is easier to digest.

I disagree with other comments here that the characters aren't developed or that the acting is unimpressive. On the contrary, I think all of the actors create extremely nuanced, compelling characters, a challenging task given the fact that none of them are allowed more than a minute or so at a time to feed us information about themselves. A movie like this could easily fall prey to filling itself with a bunch of stock villains, all cocked eyebrows and facial mannerisms rather than full-bodied characterizations, and the fact that it avoids this is a tribute to both Gaghan and the cast. And hats off to the editor on this movie, who had perhaps the most daunting task of the year.

2005 has been full of terse, important films, fresh in their immediacy. There have been a small number of sensational, tough, thought-provoking films instead of a larger batch of more mediocre ones, as has been the case recently. "Syriana" is one of the best movies of the year: it's angry, yet it's not hopeless. I hope Americans see this movie. At this time of year, when people are trampling each other in malls in order to be first in line for Christmas sales, I hope they remember that the vast wealth of America frequently comes at the sake of people all over the world who will never have a fraction of the comfort those in our country take for granted.

Grade: A


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