Saturday, February 16, 2008

Syriana......No blood for oil

A critical but relatively dry delivering about America's middle-eastern crude affairs tightly scripted and well acted but frequently in danger of becoming a fictionalized version of the corporation just without any added theatric flourish. Its strength is also arguably its flaw, namely the careful pacing which builds each story thread convincingly, layering the cake as it were until finally, about an hour in, the bonds begin to become more obvious. In other words this is a polemic (thriller doesn't really seem to be the right word) that rewards careful attention but as it's a slow-burner, and I'm not kidding, don't even think about taking a urination break or you'll be finished, you must be patient with it. Anyone hoping the wordy exchanges or behind the scenes intrigue will be broken up with special effects, explosions or slow-mo gunfights will be disappointed. Guigan, who wrote Traffic evidently, is a better screenwriter than director which isn't to say that he doesn't coax good performances from the large cast he does, and very good they all are, it's simply that its so low-key for most of the running time that, the scene in which Clooney has his nails pulled aside, it never comes alive and it's for this reason that the good never registers as great. Good movie, important movie, indeed relevant movie terrific movie? No. You're unlikely to return to it but then you've got the theme so why would you need to?

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