Movie Reviews (such as they are)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


It's quite a while now since I actually watched Syriana, and I had intended to see it again before reviewing it. But when it came down to a second viewing I realized I couldn't actually be bothered. And although that seems like a pretty damning statement, it's not intended to be as bad as it sounds.

Before seeing this movie, I'd heard and read that it was complex and intelligent. These are both words that I like to see used in conjunction with films, but oh so often they are overused. Furthermore, the truth is that what mainstream Hollywood considers an intelligent, complex piece of work is not necessarily the same as the consideration of someone accustomed to watching the work of some of the European masters.

For my money, Syriana sort of falls between two stools: it's neither Hollywood pap, nor quite the intelligent movie-making it wants to be. That's not to say huge efforts have not been made. Nor is it to say that they "tried too hard" and have fallen flat. It's a film with a good story, perhaps made more convoluted than entirely necessary at times. It's a film with good performances. It's a film that has been well directed (if rather in a style stolen from the likes of David O Russell's Three Kings and Steven Soderbergh's Traffic). Overall, it's a good film. But it's not great. It's not awesome.

Sure, it'll make you think for a while afterwards. It'll make you ponder on how fucked up the oil industry is, and how much you'd like to opt out and get solar panels on your roof, and not be part of the problem. You'll do all of that. For about two hours. And then you'll get on with your life and forget about it almost entirely. And occasionally you'll think to yourself, "Y'know, maybe I'll watch that again sometime. It was pretty good." And that, dear reader, is about the most you'll likely get from Syriana.

Acting: 14
Story: 15
Direction: 13
Enjoyment: 13
Cerebral pleasure: 15
Total: 70

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