Syriana

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Syriana Movie Poster Image
International intrigue in Mideast. Adults only.
  • R
  • 2006
  • 126 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

International espionage and assassination; cheating, lying, and little in the way of " learned."

Violence

Plot involves CIA assassinations; images include torture; accidental death of young boy, explosions, and suicide bombing.

Sex

Some women wear skimpy clothing.

Language

Some profanity.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink socially and smoke.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie isn't for kids as the plot and themes are too complex and mature. Parents should know it includes several disturbing scenes, including the accidental electrocution/drowning of a young boy in a swimming pool (including the mother's distress); a torture scene in which a character's fingernails are pulled out; and a CIA missile strike against a car convoy (explosion and aftermath featuring bloody, burning bodies). The film focuses in part on a CIA agent who orchestrates assassinations; U.S. oil company executives and lawyers also conspire to arrange violence; and a young Pakistani becomes a suicide bomber (last pictured as he heads toward a U.S. ship). Characters curse, drink, and smoke.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGa-Spur April 9, 2008

I thought it would never end.

I hope how soldiers don't act the way they are protrayed in this movie. This movie is simply unbelievable.
Adult Written byI Love Movies April 9, 2008
Teen, 17 years old Written byjorge107 April 9, 2008

Intriguing Political Thriller!

This movie has about five different story lines happening at once that all come together in the end. Full of suspense, twists, and turns, it is a masterful movi... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byVivian_L July 30, 2009

Too complicated for young kids~

It's been a little while since I've seen this movie, so I don't remember it perfectly. (I was 11 or 12 when I watched it) At the time I though it... Continue reading

What's the story?

Veteran CIA agent Bob Barnes (George Clooney) has begun to doubt the morality of his work so his bosses make a strategic, expedient choice: they'll deplete Bob until he's dead. When Prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig) makes an oil deal with China instead of the U.S. company Connex, Bob's bosses send him to oversee the young sheik's assassination. Connex moves to merge with the smaller Killen, owned by old school Texan Jimmy Pope (Chris Cooper), which has drilling rights in Kazakhstan. The merger will create the world's fifth largest oil and gas company. The shift to Chinese ownership has far-reaching effects including worker layoffs in the Gulf, which leads angry young men to terrorism. The Justice Department puts Washington law firm Sloan Whiting on Killen's Kazakhstan contract. Dean Whiting (Christopher Plummer) sends Ben Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) to gather exploitable intel and set up for a second deal with Nasir's corrupt brother Prince Meshal (Akbar Kurtha). A subplot involves energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon), whose weekend at Prince Nasir's Geneva home ends in tragedy. When Nasir feels badly about the accident, and brings Bryan on as his own policy consultant, the naïve American tells himself that he now has a chance to make energy a force for progressive politics.

Is it any good?

Complicated and intelligent, SYRIANA focuses on multiple storylines involving corporate and official energy deals, and various sorts of betrayals. The film is built on fine performances and difficult positions, a mature, provocative look at global machinations performed by small-minded men. Inspired by See No Evil, a 2002 memoir by former CIA operative Robert Baer, Syriana follows Bob's complex moral dilemma. He's not a conventionally good man, but a desperate, dedicated, and eventually, broken one.

The problem is that the system is not set up for progressive anything. Corruption, as Pope's lobbyist puts it, is not deviation but business as usual. "Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulation... Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm." While some will learn this lesson at their daddies' knees, others must bend to it, accept it and finesse it, in order to survive.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the interrelationships between personal/moral and public/ political decisions. How are government and corporate policies linked and at odds? How are the several father-and-son relationships like and unlike each other? Does Bob's seeming effort to save Prince Nasir affect your opinion of his work as a CIA agent?

Movie details

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