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Directed by Stephan Gaghan ("Traffic"), Syriana is a political thriller, one that will have oil companies crying foul and liberals pointing their fingers at corrupt corporations. As for myself, a moderate in terms of politics, it gave me a scary picture of the world, a world that is ruled by corrupt people, interested in themselves and their profits, and not for the good of mankind.
Syriana is several stories intertwined into one social commentary, not just about corrupt oil companies, but more specifically, about the corruption of man. "If man is created in God's image...then God is pretty messed up." These words are uttered by a Muslim man, a Muslim man who would eventually give his life in a terrorist act against an oil company. But more importantly, these are the words that drive the narrative of Syrianna, a picture of corrupt human beings, messed up, causing them to ruin the world the live in.
For the average moviegoer, Syriana is simply too confusing. I consider myself fairly astute in terms of understanding the world, but as careful as I watched the movie, much of it was confusing Perhaps Syrianna assumes too much of its viewers.
However, that is the only real weakness the film has. Besides the compelling story, the acting is phenomenal. Clooney, Damon, and Alexander Siddiq (Kingdom of Heaven) give noteworthy performances. But the real strength of the movie is its commentary, its picture of humanity, one that is bleak.
Some people will be upset or frustrated with the ending of the movie, because it does not seem to bring closure, but in my mind, the ending fit perfectly with what Syriana is trying to say. Throughout the movie Bennett Holiday's (Jeffrey Wright) father is sitting on the steps of his house, obviously drunk, and obviously on the outs with Holiday. This interaction is a microcosm of the film, as one man deals with the 'messiness' of man's image. Holiday's father is a bum, and he is proof that maybe in fact God is messed up for creating such a messed up man.
Syriana continues this commentary, showing the corruption of man through corrupt corporations, corrupt politicians, corrupt lawyers, Islamic terrorists, and a government that sells out its own for it's mistakes. But, like I said, the end of the movie gives us our response. The end of the movie is Holiday, for the first time, showing love for his father, telling him to come in, and actually opening the door and closing it behind him, a sign of real love, love that has been absent up until then.
Just before that scene, you have George Clooney's character trying to save a man's life, a man he had previously contracted by the CIA to kill. Yet Clooney risks his life to try and attempt to save the other man's life.
Matt Damon's character, who had left his wife to pursue success, comes home to his wife and son, to rebuild the life that he once had. This is where, to me, Syriana is a great, not just a good movie. It shows the corruption of man, but it gives an answer to such dirt. Love. Peace. Restoration. Selflessness.
Man may be messed up, but that is not the part created in God's image. God is love (John 3:16). God is peace. God has restored us (2 Cor. 5:21). God showed us selflessness in the cross. I understand many conservatives will be put off by the very anti-corporation and anti-political message of Syriana. My prayer is that you will not stop there. Rather, I pray you will see man's corruption, and strive to live the kind of life that is made in God's image.
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