The Good

An interesting film that will still be talked about and watched many years from now.

The Bad

This movie's message sometimes gets muddled by it's medium.

Syriana is one of those films that tips it's hat heavily to the films of the 1970s. And, like those films will most likely be remembered (no doubt more by film scholars than the public at large) and more appreciated many years from now. In telling a very multi-structured tale of U.S. greed, dependency on oil and games played in the Middle East, director/writer Stephen Gaghan's biggest crime is making a film that ultimately can't pay off in the way that you hope.

The message behind the film is that the U.S. and the world has to deal with our reliance on oil. The basic summation (which I agree with) is that things have got to change, because the current system does nothing but reward greed and benefit the already wealthy. The only problem is that change usually isn't brought about by goodwill but rather catastrophe. Witness something like 9/11, which sadly only made this country tighten it's belt instead of really getting to the bottom of the problems.

Flawed as it may be, Syriana should not be ignored.

Features

A Conversation With George Clooney

A relaxed George Clooney (clad in the weight and beard) sits down for a rather informal interview. He discusses how this movie is very much akin to the films of the 1970s, how the screenplay for Syriana is really the star of the film and other aspects of this movie. One thing I have to give him credit for is that when he talks about his career, or working with Steven Gaghan he seems genuinely sincere.

Deleted Scenes

There are three scenes to be watched here. With titles like "Bob and Fred Walk and Talk," I was immediately appreciative of how these deleted scenes were assembled. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think they make the film any easier to follow, they do however have the style and editing flavor of the movie itself. Also, I felt as if they were edited with the idea as each scene being it's own movie.

Make A Change, Make A Difference

A featurette that focuses in the world's need for oil. This isn't some liberal piece where big business is bashed by actors that do big business themselves. It is a section of this DVD that is trying to further the discussion started in the film. While I don't know if it will ultimately make a difference, topics such as how we drive and like fast cars seem to call into question bashing the very people that make that possible.

Video

Widescreen version presented in a "letterbox" widescreen format preserving the "scope" aspect ratio of it's original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for Widescreen TVs. Shot in a lush 35mm, this 128 minute movie feels like a documentary. It is equipped with all those devices but sadly in trying to be disjointed (to eventually become jointed) it seems that many character moments have been left out. This movie looks great, it is raw and gritty but that doesn't clarify the story any.

Audio

Dolby Digital - English and French Dolby Surround 5.1. Since this film is trying to come off as a documentary (sort of real "reality" TV program), that also means that following the characters dialogue can sometimes be a problem. You know that they had the money and the conditions to record everything perfectly, so the fact that characters to speak in whispers and are sometimes hard to follow only makes things that much more mind numbing at times.

Package

The bronzed front cover shot of George Clooney, Matt Damon and Jeffrey Wright seems to be the same one sheet that was used when this movie was released. The back features a short and well written description of this film, a special features listing, a credits list and technical specs. In addition to this there are three pictures of the main cast members, with Academy Award winner Clooney (for this film) rightfully getting the biggest photo.

Final Word

As I write this review, the U.S. is currently on alert because North Korea might or might not be planning to test out a nuclear missile. Between this, the problems in Iraq, Sudan and other parts of the world, it isn't any surprise that we don't see the situation shown in Syriana as dire. The truth of the matter is that in some way all of these problems are related. Sadly, the interest of this and other countries don't merit the need to solve all of them.

And that right there is Syriana's strongest facet. As I said in another writing about this movie, this film may be confusing but it isn't confused about what's creating this confusing situation.

Syriana was released November 23, 2005.