Syriana

Syriana is an amazingly good movie. It’s received a fair amount of negative press, at least some of which is likely due to the stunningly misleading trailer – I knew what I was getting into coming in, but I watched the trailer again after seeing the movie, and was startled to see that the trailer was advertising an action thriller. Syriana is emphatically not an action thriller – it’s a very well plotted, very well acted political intrigue. A lot of the remaining negative press uses words like “boring” and “confusing” – the former of which is highly subjective, the latter partially true. There are four concurrent interwoven plots and they’re presented that way through a series of quick cuts, and I admit that early on I found the movie a bit hard to follow. As the movie progresses, though, the focus narrows and deepens (and the four plots converge), and it becomes much easier to follow. It’s such a complicated movie, though, that I don’t think I could begin to describe it and do it justice.

Clooney, as usual, is excellent, but more and more I’m liking Alexander Siddig. After slumming for years in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Siddig steals every scene he’s in in two consecutive films (Kingdom of Heaven and this one).

Finally, there’s a 43 minute mp3 of a round table discussion featuring George Clooney, Jeffery Wright, Alexander Siddig, Stephen Gaghan (the writer) and Bob Baer (on whose book the film is loosely based) at the official Syriana site that you really must listen to.