So I headed out tonite to catch a flick with a friend of mine. Over a couple beers before heading to the theater we debated whether to see Wolf Creek or Syriana. Syriana won out because we wanted to be like mature adults and see something that might be memorable and important. One out of two isn't bad. I'll remember this movie for a long time- because I honestly don't remember being so completely lost in a movie since I was a kid. And not in the good way.
It usually takes me a good five minutes before I'm really able to click in and focus on a talky blah blah movie. And Syriana is way talky off the bat. Bad news for someone like me. Instead of listening and reading subtitles, I stared at Bloated Clooney wondering what he ate to bloat out for the role. Cake? General Tso? Then Damon shows up and I looked at his weird face and wondered about how his career is so different than Benaflecks. Then I opened up my bag of snacky snacks trying to be uncrinkly about it and just took in the scenery. (Last night I tried something new and was an instant fan. Redenbocker Popcorn Cakes! Way good and there was alot of them in the bag! Sour Cream and Onion! Chomp!) Chomp! Munchmunch... Anyway, faster than I could say 'Whatchoo talkin bout Willis?' five minutes had passed and I hadn't heard/read/understood a word anybody said and I felt like I was already in too deep.
It was all What? Who? Why? Where? For what? Wait! Huh? When? WHAT! for like a half-hour solid. I sort of understood what was going on within most scenes but I could not connect one dot to another-- at all. Watching this flick made me feel like felt like I was riding in the backseat of a car being driven by a stoned monkeys. One monkey named 'Nimbo' was down on the floor pushing on the pedals randomly. The other 'Willy-Wee' was steering with his feet and beeping the horn while looking in the rear view mirror and putting lipstick all over his face. Windshield wipers going the whole time. I knew we were going somewhere but I couldn't imagine where and wasn't all that curious to know.
Yeah I guess people can say that Syriana is an insightful look at the business of oil. And talk about how it visited the dark roads both on the ground, corporate, and government (foreign and US) angles to show how this business is done. Yadda there are some beautiful shots of sand and sun and oil fields. And some really powerful dialogue regarding the true nature and priorities of each side. Some of these statements were so strong it made hungry for the movie this could have been. These bytes would be so tasty and good that I'd crank my brain up again because I'd shock awake in a panic that I was missing a great movie.
But then I'd be immediately dropped back into the disappointing muck of blathering and anonymous evil execs and uninteresting incomprehensible 'snares' and random side stories. Eventually I relaxed back in my seat and just waited for another speech that had some meaning to me. Some could argue that surfacey incoherence was what this movie wanted to achieve. That the various aspects of this shady business are so tangled that a grand overview incomplete puzzle approach was intentional because of the nature of the content-- and for offering a good mental workout at the movies. I ain't buying it. This flick is a mess. Spaghetti and meatballs served without a plate-- and we're forced to eat it with our hands tied behind our back.
Three Good Things About this Movie
- There were a few truly powerful scenes and great shots.
- The acting was solid across the board.
- It did make me worry about the future in general.
Three Bad Things About this Movie
- When you don't know what country you're in, in a room with people you don't
know, and someone is being tortured for information you don't know anything
about-- it's boring and annoying.
- Oh, the oil business is corrupt? Glad that's cleared up...
- Anybody on screen could have been shot in the head at any time and I would have been emotionally fine with it.
I know it's possible that I missed a better movie than I saw. That the syriana ship pulled away and I jumped off the dock too late and bellyflopped as a viewer. It's possible. I get lost in Harry Potter movies too. But really, this whole flick struck me as something that arrived pre-sold with a rosecolored clooneyed hypespin of intellectual and artistic respectability-- just to hide the fact the story is babbled out like a drunk in a bar trying to explain to you how a television works.