Big oil means big money. Very big money. And that fact unleashes corruption that stretches from Houston to Washington to the Mideast and ensnares industrialists, princes, spies, politicos, oilfield laborers and terrorists in a deadly, deceptive web of move and countermove. This lightning-paced, whip-smart action thriller grips your mind and nerves with an intensity that doesn’t let go for an instant.
It’s nice to see that there are still artists and filmmakers out there who aren’t afraid to tackle such monolithic geopolitical topics as the worldwide oil trade and the widespread corruption found within. There are those, of course, who will simply refuse to entertain the topics interwoven throughout the numerous stories found in Syriana and simply pass them off as liberal, Hollywood propaganda. Where Syriana brilliantly succeeds is in taking the worldwide oil trade and offering viewers a window into the corruption and the social and political ramifications of the trade- all the while, the stories and the overall message remains completely apolitical. The film is loosely based on power plays, intelligence operations, and the international struggle over control energy control that are exhibited in books like Robert Baer’s ‘Sleeping With the Devil’ and ‘See No Evil’. Some viewers may find that following the constant shifting from one storyline to the next, and myriad situations and characters to be a daunting task, but if given time and attention, Syriana paints a powerfully undeniable and engrossing portrait of the dangerous worldwide struggle over control of the world’s resources. Without doubt, Syriana is one of the most important films to be released in recent years and will certainly continue to be discussed for years to come. One must approach the film with no political assumptions or preconceived notions of what the film is about and watch as several seemingly unrelated situations converge with a destructively potent and resonating conclusion.
Review by Emma Loggins