johnlink ranks SYRIANA (2005)

Here is a film which has (criminally) been sitting on my shelf for the past couple of years without getting viewed. It had fallen so far off my radar, that I was surprised to see Matt Damon when his character first showed up. It is a film I had been wanting to see, but was waiting for a night when I was in the mood for something substantial and heavy.

I watched SYRIANA (2005) on 2.11.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

This is a film which is every bit as deep as it advertises. Clooney has described it as a ‘film of the 70s’, and that is a great description. This movie throws its audience on its back and doesn’t give us a handle to hold onto. If you slip off halfway through, there is no getting back on.

The cast in this is top notch, and I’m not going to link them all here because it is just a complete star-studded affair where every performer is at the top of their game. Clooney, Damon, Chris Plummer, Amanda Peet, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper, Mark Strong, and William Hurt. There is not a sour or cheap note in this entire film.

The script never backs down. I need to watch this film again, and soon, to feel like I have a full grasp of all its intricacies. But there are great moments of subtlety, like when two boys are arguing and a father is about to get involved when the mother gently suggests it is sometimes better to not get involved and allow these two developing children to work it out themselves. Strong statement about our country’s role in the world which just skates right under the radar. Not all the film is that subtle, not at all, but I like that it makes an honest attempt to look at a global world from as neutral a place as possible. Thematically, this film goes across the map. It doesn’t say we should leave well enough alone, because there are certainly dangerous extremists out there. Yet, because of our involvement, those extremists have more ammunition (emotionally and literally). Just a wonderfully nuanced look at the middle east conflict.

It is amazing to watch this film knowing now, just five years later, what has become of our relationship with Iran. This film is somewhat prophetic, which certainly isn’t to suggest its plot has anything to do with actual events that recently happened in Iran. But the tone of the film seems to have hit the nail on the head.

There are some amazingly brutal, jaw-dropping moments in SYRIANA. It never lets go of you from the moment it gets you. I was amazed at how frantic a pace this film kept while never being forcefully momentous. It just happens as a non-linear but clearly story-driven piece. Stephan Gaghan’s direction is stunning (and though he wrote TRAFFIC, this from a guy who’s only previous directorial entry was the Katie Holmes vehicle ABANDON).

This is an important film, and one which will most probably result in my reading the source material.

SCORES

FILM: 9; MOVIE: 8; ACTING: 10: WRITING: 10

9+8+10+9+0=37

FINAL SCORE: 9.25

~ by johnlink00 on February 11, 2010.

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