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Sunday, December 11, 2005

Syriana - A movie that could have been. (3/5)

Movie Review - Syriana. My Rating 3/5. Worth a watch, only because it exposes the deep nexus between American businesses and the Government and how political agendas are set based on business interests.

Two powerful scenes that sum up the movie:
On being charged with corruption, a protagonist explodes:
"Corruption charges...Corruption? Corruption is Government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulation. That's Milton Friedman. And he got a goddamn Nobel Prize. We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing out here instead of fighting for scraps of meat out on the street. Corruption... is why we win."

Prince Nazir in a frustrated moment on being pushed to a corner by the US for accepting the higher Chinese bid for his nation's oil tells Matt Damon:
I want to rebuild my nation, set up an independent judiciary, a parliament, reforms for women. I want to do whatever possible to introduce efficiencies to maximize profitability; profits that would then be used to rebuild my nation. Except your President rings my father and says I have unemployment in Texas, Kansas and Washington state. One phone call later we are stealing out of our social programs to buy overpriced planes. We owed the Americans, but we have overpaid our debts. I accepted the Chinese bid, the highest bid. And suddenly I am a terrorist, a communist.

Here is a movie that could have easily made it to the top; but falls short because of mediocre direction, poor editing and poor screenplay. The movie has been unnecessarily stretched and as a result dilutes a powerful story.

Syriana is about how the West is going all out to exert its influence over the Middle East to ensure the Western oil pipelines never run dry. If it takes assassinations, regime changes to replace moderate elements with corrupt ones that favor the West, payoffs, so be it! The end objective is for the West to have the oil.

But the director loses his bearing with the narration swinging between gripping scenes and meaningless charades. In the end, a good story is floundered and the audience is left with a very watered-down message.

The scenes with the Mid-East workers on the oil rigs is by far the worst. It is almost like these scenes were force-fit into the movie to show both sides of the story. This is followed closely by the CIA agent's (George Clooney) interactions with spooks and terrorists. Very amateurish handling. If this is how spooks work, then the terrorists have nothing to fear! If not for George's acting, this would have taken first spot on worst scenes. Also, for some strange reason, the director has some of the oil-rig workers speaking in Hindi. Hindi in that region?!?!? BTW, I always thought my Hindi sounded real poor because of my South Indian accent, but after hearing these guys speak Hindi, I feel so much better.

All criticisms aside, go watch it to see how the US Government manipulates its people and the rest of the world! If you are only looking for a good "spook" movie, then Spy Game is the one to watch.

Related links:

  • A few key scenes (video).

  • Syriana's website.

  • The movie is loosely based on this book - See No Evil, by former CIA agent Robert Baer.

2 Comments:

At Mon Dec 12, 06:57:00 PM, Blogger anand said...

Bala

I haven't seen the movie, but I think the editing to confuse the viewer is intentional. [At least that is what the director said]

The idea is to tell exactly how the actual characters feel. No one knows the big picture. You see a small portion of what the character sees and it is disjointed.

I am a sucker for such movies, Momento springs to my mind.

Some day, I will eventually get to seeing movies.

BTW, heard that you are buying a home in Portland. Congrats! and good luck.

 
At Mon Dec 12, 08:48:00 PM, Blogger Balakumar said...

Well, there were soooo many unnecessary scenes that should have gone thru the scissors and didnt. It was not the "confuse the viewer" plotline; it was the "stretch the movie with chatter" piece that bugged me.

 

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