Blog | Film

Syriana

. 1 min read

At the end of Syriana someone returns home. Someone always does. We also get to see what happens when someone does not return. The files are emptied. The desks are cleaned. That's the way it goes.

Syriana was written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, who also wrote Traffic. As in Traffic there are multiple storylines, making it difficult to give a straightforward plot summary. In a way Syriana does for oil what Traffic did for drugs, mapping the people and events that make up the world of oil.

There’s a merger of two big American oil companies, which leads to lay-offs in the Middle East. A disillusioned immigrant from Pakistan who got the sack takes to radical Islam. A corporate lawyer who is working on the due diligence for the merger happens upon some stinky business. An energy derivatives trader becomes an economic adviser to an Arab prince who hopes to succeed his father as ruler of an Arab emirate and to modernize his country. And there’s Bob Barnes, a weary CIA agent who is somehow caught in-between.

I quite liked it, especially the documentary style interludes shot around the world, which give the movie a very cosmopolitan feel. I must say that I'm not too sure about the political undertone. What is interesting about Syriana is that it actually raises that kind of doubt, which James Bond movies or movies such as Die Hard or Mission Impossible never do, even though they too make some questionable implicit statements about the outreach of government interventions.

It seems fitting that George Clooney, who plays the CIA agent, won an Academy award for best supporting actor for his role in Syriana. Even though he is one of the film’s central characters, there are no real protagonists. The film doesn’t really come to a conclusion either. It just ends. You’re left with the slightly uncomfortable feeling that this is how it could be, that this is how lives intertwine and how one event may lead to another.