Published on July 9, 2006 By averjoe In Entertainment
I saw “Syriana” on DVD the other day. “Syriana” is about the relationship between oil, the oil (or energy) business, government and people and the intrigue that happens between these entities.

The movie is a well-made tale that has multiple characters that are decently developed. Many themes are running through this story where an oil company is trying to secure access to oil and get a merger cleared by the US Justice Department.

The junior partner (Killens) of a proposed merger with Connex is being investigated for possible illegal activities in getting rights to the oil fields of Kazakhstan. They hire a law firm to see if any laws were broken and by whom.

All this leads to a lot of twist and turns that keep the viewer involved. This is what can be called a political drama. I always say judgment of any art form is subjective, so if you are not in to current events, politics, and history this movie might not be of interest.

There are many important characters in this film. There is ‘Bob’ a CIA field agent taking on high-risk assignments for his government without a clear understanding of the big picture, which ends up costing him.

You have a guy from some small derivative/trading and consulting firm based in Switzerland that is trying to drum up business from one of the wealthy princes or emir.

After a family tragedy he ends up getting business (blood money) with a smart progressive prince who wishes to be the chosen successor to his aging father.

The progressive prince is in competition for the kingship with his not to progressive brother. Unfortunately for this progressive thinking prince his decision to deal with the Chinese angered US oil interest, the CLI (Committee for the liberation of Iran - composed of oil business people and others) and the US government.

There is the US prosecutor trying to find corruption behind the Connex-Killen deal (really looking into Killen). A lawyer, Benet Holiday (spelling is mine) from a large law firm representing Connex/Killen goes over records and transactions looking to find illegality before the US Attorney’s office does.

Then there is the Pakistani Muslim young adults who are facing hard times and mistreatment as guest workers of one of the oil rich Arab nations. They find themselves depending on and finally becoming members of a radical Islamic group.

There are other characters in this film and all make a contribution to telling a truly immense, and relevant story of the interplay between oil, business, government and people.

Director and writer Stephen Gaghan deserves praise for telling this story so well. Of course behind many good screenplays is excellent source material, so the author of book from which this story was based probably (I didn’t read the book but it is called “See No Evil” by Robert Baer) did a very good job.

I was pleased at how “Syriana” touched on the family life of many of the main characters of the film. The son of CIA field agent (whose wife is also a CIA operative) in one scene says, “both of my parents are professional liars”. This one sentence says so much. The father/son/friends relationships of the Muslim oil field worker, the dynamics of the derivatives firm employee’s family and the relationship between the sons of the emir are all well done.

Many involved in the making of this picture say the film really doesn’t make any judgments. It just shows the characters doing what they feel is right. I disagree.

You have leadership at the CIA abandoning one of their agents for geopolitical reasons, oil interest that want access to Iran’s oil sponsoring and being very involved in a group called CLI. These CLI guys are sitting in on briefings to our political leaders by the CIA.

You have a lawyer selling out one of his partners in the law firm; oil execs selling out business partners and family conflicts of the emir being exploited until one brother sells out the other.

There is pressure being applied by big oil companies on oil rich nations to make choices not in the interest of the governments or their people.

“Syriana” is a very damning view of what is going on all in the name of oil Unfortunately, a lot of the movie is probably closer to fact than fiction.

“Syriana” is an excellent movie. The directing, script and performances are all very good. This is a complex story too, making all the good directing, the script and acting even more impressive. “Syriana” should be a part of everyone’s DVD collection. It deserved all the accolades it has received. It represents excellent filmmaking and storytelling. Syriana gets an A grade.

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