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June 2006

Syriana DVD Review

By Kam Williams

Syriana DVD Review

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Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper, William Hurt, Tim Blake Nelson, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, Alexander Siddig, Mazhar Munir, Greta Scacchi
Director: Stephen Gaghan
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Language: English
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 1
Rating INCLUDEPICTURE "http://ec1.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/detail/r.gif" \* MERGEFORMATINET
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Release Date: June 20, 2006
Run Time: 128 minutes
DVD Features:
Available Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
"Make a Change, Make a Difference" featurette
"A Conversation with George Clooney" interview featurette
Deleted scenes
Theatrical trailer
   

DVD Features George Clooney's Oscar-Winning Performance

George Clooney took a steep salary cut and gained an unflattering 30 pounds to make this timely political potboiler, and fortunately, his commitment above and beyond the call of duty was handsomely rewarded with an Academy Award. However, the rest of Syriana fails to measure up to his career performance.

For one can't help but feel cheated after following this picture's convoluted fact pattern only to realize that you still can't fit the pieces of the confounding, cinematic jigsaw puzzle together. Whether the result of a design flaw or a deliberate cinematic contrivance, Syriana's confusion is further exacerbated by the cumbersome cast of shallow characters who inhabit the murky waters of this hyper-kinetic Persian Gulf oil saga of greed and corruption. rom inscrutable Arab sheiks to back-stabbing double-agents to misguided Muslim fanatics to shady lobbyists to bungling bureaucrats to crooked captains of industry, the dizzying-paced production never pauses long enough to imbue these simplistically-drawn archetypes with enough depth to allow the audience to invest in them emotionally. The action-oriented adventure in Iran with CIA Agent Bob Barnes (Clooney) involved in a badly bungled covert operation which leaves a rocket launcher in the hands of terrorists.

Everything escalates from there, but in the absence of a scorecard or hints at anyone's deeper motivations, we are expected to agree, by implication, with the flip, superficial suggestion that it's all about the oil. Shot primarily on visually-striking locations around the Middle East, the movie weaves a complicated web of intrigue revolving around the ruthless competition for control of the region's oil industry.

Politically-paranoid, if well-intentioned, this disjointed message movie doesn't really do much more than indict the usual suspects.

Good (2 stars)