There is something metronomic about Syriana. A heady mix of corporate corruption, arms dealing and international relations, this film is very evenly, in fact rather slowly paced, yet never dull.
It's an ensemble piece and there are many strands to the plot, not all of which can be appreciated in a first viewing. George Clooney, looking ten days since showering and ten months from a heart attack, won an Oscar for his role, yet all the acting is of an equally high quality so he doesn't particularly stand out. There is a tautness to the script, no words are wasted and characters manage to convey a great deal in very few sentences.
The cinematography in this film is excellent, eschewing gloss for a gritty feel. You can almost smell what is happening on screen and the imaginative shot work makes the film more involving still.
The issues in this film feel very up to the minute (Iran features heavily) and are discussed in a fairly even handed manner.
However, the plot line involving Muslims is sadly stereotypical and feels like an unnecessary plot device, jarring with the realpolitick tone of the rest of the film.
Also, it is unfortunate that the very cheap cliche of having the Athan play as the opening soundtrack was utilised. The use of the call to prayer as signifier of film-set-in-Middle-East by the American fim industry is both lazy and offensive.
Unfortunately the simple truth is, if as Muslims we want to be portrayed accurately in films, we are going to have to make these films ourselves.
Content:Strong language, some graphic violence.