• Review Date: June 19, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

Common Sense Media says

International intrigue in Mideast. Adults only.
  • Review Date: June 19, 2006
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 126 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

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


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


Some women wear skimpy clothing.


Some profanity.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters drink socially and smoke.

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.

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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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:June 20, 2006
DVD release date:June 20, 2006
Cast:Amanda Peet, George Clooney, Matt Damon
Director:Stephen Gaghan
Studio:Warner Bros.
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:for violence and language

This review of Syriana was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byGa-Spur April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

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.
Teen, 17 years old Written byjorge107 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

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 movie that is a must-see for adults and the politically inclined. It was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, and I remember that George Clooney won Best Supporting Actor for his role as a CIA agent. The film is definitely gory and contains a fair amount of swearing, and I would certainly not reccommend it to anyone under thirteen. Above that age, it's a little more questionable. It would help for the parents to be present (as most kids will have a lot of questions afterwards).
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 was rather disturbing (there was a nail-ripping scene, right?) but also really confusing. It seemed like there was several different stories with several different main characters with no connection to each other. (I can't remember the end but I think there was a connection.) I was probably just a bit too young at the time to understand this movie the way it was intended to be understood. I'll re-watch this one soon. (and write a better review) D:


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