Tuesday, March 07, 2006


By Reymundo Salao

In SYRIANA, a lawyer uncovers a great deal of corruption in Washington, A teenager submits himself to religious fanaticism, A young American idealist is captivated by an Iranian leader who wishes nothing more than a change for the good in his country, a CIA operative who seems to be betrayed by his own government, and a patriot who sees the future of his country merely just being bought by rich American oil companies. Compeling, captivating, and charismatic, SYRIANA is a political drama comprised of characters whose lives are intertwined by a single series of events.

Advertisements and other film reviews may list SYRIANA as a political thriller; a "heart-pounding espionage thriller", as one article might describe it. Do not be fooled. This is no Bond flick. SYRIANA is pure intelligent political drama. You do not walk into this movie expecting Rambo-action. You better be in the mood for 2 hours of dialogue and political-espionage drama, otherwise, bring a pillow. Admittedly, I myself, fall off attention trying to catch up to many of the details of this film. Good thing I only missed out on quite a very few, because by the time you reach the middle part, the storyline of SYRIANA isn’t really as complicated as what it seems. There is no bad guy here; only bad intentions, bad politics, and a whole lot of greed. And as a political & espionage drama, it is a two-thumbs-up piece of work.

The film is inspired by the true story of former CIA agent Robert Baer, told in his book SEE NO EVIL: THE TRUE STORY OF A GROUND SOLDIER IN THE CIA'S WAR ON TERRORISM. The movie was written and directed by Stephen Gaghan, winner of the Academy Award for Best Screenplay for the movie "Traffic", who in this movie employs a lot of video camera shots which give it a very realistic documentary feel; a major plus to the mood-setting tone of the movie which seems to give credibility that indeed the events that transpire in this movie is not very far from what really is happening in the real world of corruption and the manipulations brought about by US Foreign interest.

Although many details appear simple as it may seem, the film has flung to many lengths just to be perfect as it is. Writer-director Stephen Gaghan who has had extensive research on the power plays of the oil industry and in Washington, also made first-hand research on meeting Former CIA Agent Bob Baer, who took him to explore the regions of the Middle East where Baer worked gathering intelligence for 21 years, introducing him to many figures, like CIA Operatives, businessmen, and the leader of the Islamic movement Hezbollah, and developed a firm grasp of understanding on how the oil game and its effects are played. On the other hand, we also find the lengths that actor George Clooney had to take, going so far as to gain a couple of pounds for his role in this movie. Oh, just imagine the agony of enjoying as much food as you want. hehehe

SYRIANA exposes how the US Government cheats foreign countries off its own natural resources through corruption and a great deal of manipulative bribery. We can see how many great revolutionists, idealists, and visionaries are being kept away from rising to a great leadership for their own nation so that that nation would not grow strong in its own two feet and break free from its foreign dependency. We can also see how the innocence of youth can be molded or corrupted (however which way you view it to be) that they develop into suicidal warriors for what they believe is ideal; for what they believe is the greater good.

It opens our eyes into the consciousness of what is going on in the Middle East and he power players of the Oil game. SYRIANA is informative as it is compelling. It may not be a very entertaining movie, but it is as good as reading a great book that exposes corruption in the higher echelons of the global community.

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