Syriana (15)

Film image

The ViewLondon Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner01/03/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 128 mins

Gripping, complex and thoughtful thriller that harks back to the classic political thrillers of the 1970s.

What’s it all about?
Written and directed by Stephen Gaghan (Oscar-winning screenwriter of Traffic) Syriana takes its name from a Washington term that refers to a hypothetical reshaping of the Middle East. The film follows multiple storylines and several different characters, each of whom is somehow connected to the oil industry.

Principal players include George Clooney as veteran CIA agent Bob Barnes, who comes to question his role in the assignments he has blindly carried out; Matt Damon as family man Bryan Woodman, who becomes a business advisor to the politically aware Prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig) after a family tragedy; and Jeffrey Wright as Bennett Holiday, an ambitious Washington lawyer asked to investigate the legitimacy of a merger between two powerful U.S oil companies.

The Good
Gaghan has assembled a terrific ensemble cast and he’s rewarded by note-perfect performances throughout. An Oscar –nominated Clooney is the stand out. Not only is he practically unrecognisable (he gained 30 pounds for the role and grew a huge salt-and-pepper beard) but his appearance adds a shocking level of realism and vulnerability at a certain point in the film.

Damon is equally impressive, in the sort of clean-cut role that might have gone to Robert Redford 30 years ago. There’s also superb support from Alexander Siding and Britain’s own Mark Strong in a chilling cameo.

The Great
In addition, Robert Elswit’s exceptional cinematography gives the film a distinctive level of authenticity, something that’s highlighted by some superb location work. Similarly, Gaghan proves himself more than capable of as a thriller director, orchestrating a couple of gripping suspense sequences that are as tense as anything in Munich.

Worth seeing?
Like Traffic, Syriana is a complex, thought-provoking, multi-layered drama that rewards close attention. It also fulfils all the key criteria of a decent political thriller – it’ll make you angry, it’ll make you think and it’ll scare the hell out of you. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Syriana (15)
Be the first to review Syriana...
image
01 Guardians of the Galaxy (tbc)

Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel

image
02 I Am Divine (15)

Ricki Lake, John Waters, Divine

image
03 Pudsey The Dog: The Movie (U)

David Walliams, Olivia Colman

image
04 Love Me Till Monday (15)

Georgia Maguire, Sarah-Jayne Butler, Chris Leveaux...

image
05 Cycling with Moliere (tbc)

Fabrice Luchini, Lambert Wilson, Maya Sansa

Content updated: 24/07/2014 13:24

Latest Film Reviews

Film of the Week

Love Me Till Monday (15)

Georgia Maguire stars as a young woman disillusioned with the new world of work and the lack of Mr Right in her life.

UK Box Office Top 5 Films

Hot Tickets

Film 4 Summer ScreenFilm 4 Summer Screen

Taking over the big screen at Somerset House again for August 2014, the Film 4 Summer Screen series brings a variety of classics and brand new films to audiences in the capital.