Written by Stephen Gaghan (Traffic), Syriana is an interesting movie about the oil industry, from the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. all the way down to the oil workers in the field. Gaghan also directed the film, and takes a page from the intertwining storylines that Traffic did so well to show us the drug trade.
Alexander Siddig, who geek-friends will remember as Lt. Bashir from “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine” plays Prince Nasir Al-Subaai, the eldest son of a Sheik who is trying to take over from his father so that he can bring democracy to his small impoverished country – even if it means opening his oil fields to the Chinese. Unfortunately, the USA doesn’t want him in charge – they want to support his brother, who will “tow the line” and not deal with the Chinese. George Clooney plays a CIA operative who uncovers a plot to assassinate Prince Nasir, at the same time that oil broker Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon) comes on board with Nasir as his economic advisor.
How all their different stories intertwine makes for interesting filmmaking – and it shows how every action has a reaction in a different end of the spectrum. The film glosses over quite a few world-realities, but does show that there are good guys and bad guys on both sides. Ultimately it’s a neat film to see, but doesn’t really do anything for me in the end.
The music by Alexandre Desplat is very low key – much like Cliff Martinez’s score to Traffic, although there are some really cool moments (some of which I heard at the scoring session a while back). I’m curious to hear how the album turns out, but can only give Syriana a lukewarm recommendation as a film.