Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 349 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: From writer/director Stephen Gaghan, winner of the Best Screenplay Academy Award for "Traffic," comes Syriana, a political thriller that unfolds against the intrigues and corruption of the global oil industry. From the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, the film's multiple storylines weave together to illuminate the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power. (Warner Bros.) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 40
  2. Negative: 0 out of 40
  1. 100
    Takes off with the lightning speed of a thriller, the gonzo force of frontline journalism and the emotional wallop of a drama that puts a human face on shocking statistics.
  2. What's so powerful about the film is the rich stories it tells and how it leads them like so many human tributaries to one black, bubbling source.
  3. 80
    A bleak and powerful movie, made all the more sobering by how much of it isn't fiction.
  4. Reserved yet still suspenseful and hugely ambitious, Syriana sets out to prove what many have come to suspect -- that oil money is the root of all contemporary evil.
  5. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Politically, Syriana is a card-carrying liberal, more in tune with Le Carre and Greene than with Clancy.
  6. 70
    A major film without being a great film. It's a strange movie, and a stunningly pessimistic one, and the strangeness and pessimism connect it to other recent American films in ways that suggest that something unhappy in the national mood has crept into the movies.
  7. It's hard to get swept away when you're struggling to figure out who's doing what to whom and why.

See all 40 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 39 out of 159
  1. Jun 1, 2012
    As real as movies get to reality.
  2. dave
    Dec 19, 2005
    This movie was great. However, if you are an idiot and can't follow four separate parts to one story (that all come together) then don't bother. So, go see the movie. But be warned: it's not action packed, yoiu may have to think instead of absorbing special effects, and you may have to use reasoning skills at something like a fifth grade level. Unfortunately as I've seen several comments below, these traits are now few and far between. Expand
  3. SamF.
    Oct 25, 2007
    This movie is far subtler and more nuanced than one reviewer on this site credits it with when describing it as 'far-left propaganda'. It's nothing of the sort. The message isn't that America is evil and has only itself to blame for the terrorist attacks aimed at it. Rather it shows a degree of unwitting complicity in the underlying socio-economic triggers for terrorism amongst some elements of American society. Contrary to suggestions, also, that this film portrayed the Muslims (even those coordinating terrorist attacks) as innocent victims, one is hardly made to feel sympathetic towards the dogmatist who by his own admission rejects all reason and logic relying entirely on the Koran to the exclusion of all else as he cynically manipulates disadvantaged youth. Slowly the viewer sees the transformation of a young migrant labourer who has been laid off because of the Prince's deal with a Chinese company (yes - not only American greed is responsible) transform into a suicide bomber, naively led on by masterful and sinister fanatics. On the other hand, far removed from all this, we see those high up in America's corporate hierarchy blissfully immune and ignorant of all this as they casually make decisions that drastically effect huge numbers of people. Corruption lurks like some insidious, pervasive shadow everywhere. We witness the moral decline of Matt Damon's energy analyst character who comes into the employment of the Prince after his son dies, partially as a result of the death. The real stand out here, though, is undoubtedly George Clooney, whose role is utterly without glamour and thus brilliant real. He, unlike Damon, is redeemed over the course of the film and endures everything - battling corruption, dealing with Iranian intelligence agents and suffering torture at the hands of a deceitful, cruel double agent. By far the best performance of his career. The film has been criticized as too convoluted. It's true it has many characters and many plot strands, but if a viewer pays attention and applies the gray matter they will gain a rewarding experience. Not the type of film to relax and unwind to, but definitely worth the while to watch it, appreciate it and get thinking. Expand
  4. PadruigQ.
    Dec 30, 2005
    The attempt to achieve simultaneity of events is almost successful. Some scenes last about ten seconds, very few beyond five minutes. It takes getting used to and it is best not to try to clarify every cause and effect until about fifteen minutes into the film. Clooney's middle-aged mercenary is brilliant characterization. Expand
  5. Aaronk
    Dec 17, 2005
    The movie was interesting, and made this usually very political and dry subject more human for both sides. On the other hand the film was slow and uncompelling from the beginning. The characters that were compelling were not developed. The film is interesting, but does not hold your attention and it's tempting to walk out. Expand
  6. ChuckU.
    Jan 6, 2006
    Undeveloped characters, choppy, shallow. this movie blew the chance on what should have been an awesome topic.
  7. ArnoldH.
    Dec 3, 2005
    The most incoherent two hours in movie history. Stereotypes, not flesh and blood characters. Unconcving plot developments. A true must-miss.

See all 159 User Reviews