Hollywood’s commentary on current events is doomed to be packaged into a format that will sell tickets, avoid details required to truly make points, and a feeling of detachment due to the time required to make a movie. Nevertheless, if a standard could exist by which films could model their political statements, Syriana would be a good start. Certainly, I will have to see it again when it comes out on video to fully understand (or at least make a better attempt at fully understanding) what is going on in the movie’s plot.
What Syriana refuses to do is preach or present a one-dimensional view of the problem it centers around: oil on Earth is a limited asset and it is a societal instinct to fight over limited resources. The character sketches (they can only be sketches as there are many players in this vast political game) are well thought-out, giving us a chance to bounce their personalities off one another in our own heads. That is, the movie is rich enough to be continued in your mind, after the projector shuts off and you unstick your feet from the floor of the theater.
As a thriller, Syriana is not perfect: it lacks the intrigue and slamming rapid twists and turns I expect from my thrillers (The Da Vinci Code, ahoy!) … but I expected it to be more thought-provoking than adrenaline-pumping. I found it in the vein of The Constant Gardener in that you were forced to listen to the dialogue, make connections, actively participate in the movie.
Want to think? Think about the future? Talk about the world with some people who are (hopefully) level-headed and not rabies-infested politically indoctrinated folk? See this movie.