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‘Syriana’ Film Review: The real terrorist

As a modern issue-related film, “Syriana” manages to turn one of the most controversial topics in the world into a challenging, thought-provoking story of the world’s grandest schemes, powerful companies, and most dangerous people.

This film generates a debate on who the real terrorists are in the midst of international chaos, politics, and corruption. This political drama’s morale can make one think of the gas used in every step on the accelerator and the LPG used when cooking food.

America sharing a part of being an actual terrorist in this story is a tough endeavor for its Hollywood filmmakers. Though this motion picture has a disclaimer of it being a fictional story, it gives enough room for people to ponder on various issues in a balanced fashion — of things that are good, bad, or in the shades of gray. It makes an understatement on how power and oppression kills.

Director Stephen Gaghan presents a brutally realistic action picture. The timely political tones of the tale make intriguing images from well-composed shots and camera maneuvering.

Having a slow and complicated start, this cinematic offering takes the risk of losing its audience in its interweaving, multiple, and parallel storylines. It is a bit straining to understand certain bits and pieces of information in the storytelling. The narrative is populated with a tad too many characters and plot points, leaving little time for the audience to breathe. But skillfully woven as it is, it still finds some success in providing an intelligent dissection of the business, politics, emotions, and conspiracies of the global oil industry.

As the story progresses, the execution becomes good enough to hold the attention of the audience, amidst the fact that the first act tends to be quite confusing and overflowing with information. Overall, with the densely packed details and the issues about oil, war, and global capitalism in its very foundation, this film is still able to edify and entertain.

The interlocking plots of the multilayered narrative are served well by the cast. The bearded and bloated George Clooney plays the character Bob Barnes — an exploited CIA operative who uncovers the disturbing truth about the work he has devoted his life to. Matt Damon provides a convincing performance as energy analyst Bryan Woodman who suffers from a family tragedy and later finds redemption in his work under his new goldmine, Prince Nasir.

Alexander Siddig as an idealistic Gulf prince offers a distinctive message for such idealism and possibilities in real-life situations. Jeffrey Wright as Washington corporate lawyer Bennett Holiday effectively faces a moral dilemma as he finds himself immersed deeper and deeper into the corruption of the two merging powerful U.S. oil companies. Mazhar Munir as Wasim Khan, a teenage Pakistani migrant worker who becomes a yielding recruit for a suicide bombing mission, renders a sympathetic appeal to the audience as a symbol of oppression. From the major to the supporting roles and even the minor characters, the ensemble cast contribute to the vast and complex system that powers the global oil industry.

A minor bother in the presentation is how easy the assassinations and bombings get accomplished. From the assassination of a royalty to the suicide bombing of big oil spots, it is as if the supposed powerful giants don’t give reasonably tight defense in their own fortresses. The bodyguards seem to act so lame and the technological defenses seem so unbecoming that it turns out too easy to make such tragedies happen.

The consequences on the fierce pursuit for wealth and power give a troubling vision of how capitalism, terrorism, and idealism work in this time and age. Indeed, the bitter truth is difficult to absorb and accept.

This ambitiously complicated, intellectually gripping, and poignantly mind-stretching film is crafted with dangerous conviction and skill on issues about oil, money and modern international relations. It targets audiences with preference on complicated plots, world politics and superpowers, and the oppression of those down the line.

Rianne Hill Soriano
Rianne is a director, writer, educator, and consultant in film and commercial productions. From mainstream essentials to independent flair, she knows the drill in making entertaining and well-meaning productions. She can lead a pack passionate about extreme action and technological edge; she can breathe an endearing and sentimental style for a team with a sweet disposition.

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