Sunday, December 18, 2005

Syriana--great first half

Iran, Georgetown, Geneva, Cap D'antibes, Princeton, Spain, the opening of Syriana moves across the globe like a Ludlum adventure comic. Syriana is involving and entertaining, as one focuses on how the various caricatures interact into a coherent plot, or plots. The look of the film is terrific and at times it is informative and thought provoking. But, about 70 minutes in, the film decides to change gears when the second son Amir hopeful says to a U.S. analyst(not verbatim) "Your president just has to call my father and say you need jobs in Texas or Washington state and he will sign a contract to buy things we don't need". For me it was like in Saving Private Ryan when Ted Danson shows up on the bluff after the beach has been taken. I'm in Cheers, and the spell is broken. In Syriana's case, the spell is broken by the not unexpected news that this film has a message and will do the thinking for the viewer the rest of the way. With subtlety gone, focusing on accepting, rejecting or modifying that message was the task. After Ted Danson, Saving Private Ryan became a regular war movie. After the direct message, Syriana becomes a regular international intrigue movie, a genre that always teaches that spies are useful until they are not.

Postscript---I do not want in any way to equate Saving Private Ryan with Syriana. Saving Private Ryan is a great movie, that will still watched 25 years from now. Syriana is a current topical movie, that in a year or less will be out like yesterday's newspaper.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so careful to be somewhat positive about Syriana. It's such a second rate movie that's getting rave reviews because George Clooney is in such a narcissistic orgasm of anti-Bushism. The Bourne(Matt Damon) series is much better, without the politics.

6:44 PM  

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