The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Too much packed in


Director: Steven Gaghan

Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Christopher Plummer, Geoffrey Wright


If it weren’t so complicated, so convoluted, Syriana would have passed as a perfect geopolitical political thriller that Steven Gaghan had intended it to be. The second movie on West Asia politics to hit the Calcutta theatres in a week, after Steven Spielberg’s Munich, this one tries to tackle too many issues in a little over two hours.

Let’s see if we can unravel this. The king of a Gulf country has two sons. The pro-democracy Prince gives oil drilling rights to a Chinese firm which makes a Houston oil giant see red. The other Prince, flashy and cunning, obviously favours the US. The American firm which has lost the contract merges with another that has won the rights to drill oil in Kazakhstan, a move which the US law department frowns on. The merger also leaves hundreds of foreign workers (read: Pakistani) jobless, one of who will be a fidayeen and plough a stolen Stinger missile (CIA agent George Clooney’s blunder in Tehran) into the rig on which the merger function is being held. Phew!

American interest in Gulf oil, corporate corruption, global politics, terrorism — too much packed into Syriana, a code used by a militant think tank during the 90s.

Oh! Forgot to mention. In the middle of it all, Matt Damon as the energy analyst plays a key role in shaping West Asia economy.

The ensemble cast is brilliant — George who won an Oscar for his character as the portly CIA agent (he reportedly took weight-gaining tips from ex-girlfriend Renee Zelleweger), Christopher Plummer as the worldly-wise lawyer, Geoffrey Wright as the spin doctor — and do a fantastic job. True, the plot is confusing. But, then, so is the time.

Pallabi Biswas

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