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"SYRIANA"
(2005) (George Clooney, Alexander Siddig) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Heavy Extreme Heavy Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor Mild None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Mild Mild Heavy Heavy Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: The complex paths of disparate individuals eventually converge as the U.S. government and a corporate oil giant position themselves in response to an Arab Gulf State seeking to realign its oil ties and business.
PLOT:
Bob Barnes (GEORGE CLOONEY) is a covert CIA agent who might come off as somewhat of a loose cannon to some of his superiors, but always manages to get the job done. After completely his latest mission only to have a Stinger missile apparently end up in the wrong hands, Bob's latest assignment is even dicier. It seems that the U.S. Government isn't pleased that Prince Nasir (ALEXANDER SIDDIG) has opted to switch his business allegiance of producing oil from the U.S. to China. Accordingly, they want him taken out.

That development also doesn't sit well with Texas oil company Connex that's now after Killen, a smaller operation -- run by Jimmy Pope (CHRIS COOPER) -- that's recently won the drilling rights in Kazakhstan and thus would be lucrative for their business. To get around potential Justice Dept. scrutiny, they hire a powerful D.C. law firm run by Dean Whiting (CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER) to make sure the merger can go through. He assigns up and coming star attorney Bennett Holiday (JEFFREY WRIGHT) to work on the case, thus meaning that lawyer will have less time to deal with his alcoholic father (WILLIAM C. MITCHELL).

At the same time, Whiting wishes to undermine Prince Nasir by trying to get his father the king to choose Nasir's younger and more malleable brother, Prince Meshal (AKBAR KURTHA), to succeed him as ruler of their country. Nasir doesn't see his brother as a serious threat, and he's planning on reforming his country for the good in what will likely be radical changes for the status quo. His latest and unlikely advisor is energy analyst Bryan Woodman (MATT DAMON) who has no problem telling the Prince exactly what he thinks about his country and how the world perceives it. Part of that relationship is due to the accidental drowning of Bryan's son at Nasir's estate, a tragedy that still deeply affects Bryan's wife Julie (AMANDA PEET).

Then there are Connex workers Saleem Ahmed Kahn (SHAHID AHMED) and his son Wasim (MAZHAR MUNIR) who've just been laid off from work. Along with his friend Farooq (SONNELL DADRAL), Wasim eventually finds himself drawn to a radical Muslim group led by a charismatic recruiter who just so happens to possess Bob's missing Stinger missile. As the various disparate parties attempt to get what they want, their paths eventually converge in ways they couldn't imagine.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Older teens might be intrigued by it, but younger kids probably won't unless they're fans of someone in the cast.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For violence and language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • GEORGE CLOONEY plays a covert CIA agent who's considered a loose cannon by some of his superiors, but is good at what he does, specifically killing his targets. His latest assignment is Prince Nasir, but when things go badly, his own agency turns against him and he tries to find out why.
  • ALEXANDER SIDDIG plays a business-minded and progressive Gulf State prince who believes he'll succeed his father as ruler of their country, but his oil arrangements and desire to reform his country don't sit well with various powers.
  • CHRIS COOPER plays the owner of a Texas oil company that's being targeted for a merger by a larger one. He uses profanity and doesn't suffer fools.
  • JEFFREY WRIGHT plays an ambitious attorney sent by Whiting to appease the Justice Department regarding the proposed oil company merger. While having to deal with his alcoholic father, he must decide whether to follow his ambitions or morals when asked to bend and break the rules.
  • MATT DAMON plays an energy analyst who channels the grief over his son's accidental death into advising Prince Nasir about how to run his country. He uses strong profanity and eventually grows apart from his wife.
  • AMANDA PEET plays his spouse who feels he's profiting off their son's death by taking up with the prince.
  • CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER plays the head of a powerful law firm hired by Connex to make sure the merger goes through, and he assigns Bennett to do that any way he can.
  • AKBAR KURTHA plays Nasir's younger brother, a less ambitious young man who most everyone wants to succeed his father.
  • MAZHAR MUNIR plays a laid-off Connex worker who eventually falls under the spell of an extremist Muslim group that's grooming would-be suicide bombers.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this dramatic thriller. Profanity consists of at least 20 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are uttered. Some non-explicit, but sexually related dialogue is heard, while the camera briefly pans up a woman's clothed body. Violence consists of people being killed in several scenes (we see explosions, but not the actual deaths), a graphic torture session (where a man's fingernails are ripped from his fingers and he's beaten), and some men beating others.

    Some of that violence has bloody/gory results, and those scenes and other moments (including an accidental drowning) may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers, while the latter causes a marriage to fall apart. Other tense family material is also present. Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, while some smoke and/or drink, with one noted as being an alcoholic.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's a great deal of bouncy, handheld camerawork throughout the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • A man asks Bob if he's ever tried liquid MDMH as Bob drinks whiskey along with others (and at least one has champagne).
  • Bob has a glass of wine with his lunch.
  • Bennett tells his alcoholic father that there's beer in the house so that he doesn't die from the DTs.
  • People have wine on a yacht. Later, Whiting and another man have what looks like brandy, while Prince Meshal drinks something else.
  • Bob and an informant have drinks in a bar where others drink.
  • Bennett's father appears to be passed out with a drink in front of him.
  • Leland has a drink and pours one for Bennett, who declines the offer. Leland then hands the drink to Bennett's boss, Sidney.
  • Bennett has his father come inside with him off the steps, telling him to leave the beer there.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Wasim has red marks/cuts on his face from his previous beating.
  • We see the bloody results as a fingernail is ripped from Bob's finger and then again. Bob's face is then very bloody after being pummeled, and we see blood from his mouth as well as on his bare chest. We later see him lying on the floor with blood on him as well as some on the floor around him.
  • Bryan has blood on his face and neck following a nearby missile strike.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The terrorists have bad attitudes for their deadly actions.
  • The oil company people and those they hire to represent them have bad attitudes when they knowingly bend and break the rules.
  • Some could view the U.S. government and Bob for having bad attitudes for their lethal, politically motivated actions.
  • Saleem states that the Chinese may be smart, but are bad drivers and shouldn't even be allowed to wash cars.
  • Some viewers might not like it when Farooq states that if man is made in God's image, that means He's messed up.
  • Some other young kids briefly torment Bryan's 6-year-old by a pool.
  • Bennett's father ignores his adult son's rule of no smoking in the house by lighting up.
  • When one guy jokes that another guy's sister likes a third guy, that man jokes that she "has a big ass."
  • Some guards with billy clubs repeatedly strike Wasim and another man for talking in line. We see them whaling away on both, with one guard pushing his club down onto one's neck on the street.
  • One Arab man states that liberal, Christian and western ways have failed and thus shouldn't be followed (some viewers might not like that comment).
  • Whiting is demeaning to Prince Meshal for not knowing what he wants (and for being in line to succeed his father, the ruler).
  • As something of an apology for the accidental death of Bryan's son, Prince Nasir offers him $75 million worth of an opportunity, with Bryan snidely asking how much for the other kid (Nasir snidely remarks back $100 million).
  • After they hear that Bob's CIA ordered plot to assassinate Nasir failed and is being used to stir up anti-American sentiment, a high-ranking official tells Bob's immediate supervisors to distance him from the agency (making him sound like a rogue operative).
  • When Bryan comments on how much money might be coming their way from Nasir, Julie asks how it looks to profit from the death of their 6-year-old. That makes Bryan mad and he replies "F*ck you" to her and states that he did just as much parenting as her. She then says that they're going back to the U.S. and then looks surprised when Bryan replies "Good" (since she apparently meant all of them and Bryan is implying it will be just her and their other son).
  • When he hears that his father has chosen Prince Meshal to succeed him, Prince Nasir states that his brother is barely qualified to run a brothel, let alone a country.
  • A terrorist recruiter slowly lures Wasim and another man into his fold.
  • We learn that Sidney is corrupt.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be unsettling or suspenseful to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • As part of his covert activities, Bob sells two Stinger missiles to foreign operatives, but one unexpectedly goes to another person. Curious to see who, Bob peeks inside the room only to find a gun pointed at his head before the man holding it backs away.
  • Some other young kids briefly torment Bryan's 6-year-old by a pool. The boy later jumps in, but we then see him sinking underwater, with Julie panicking and Bryan jumping in to retrieve him. We see them get the boy out (his eyes are open), but we later see them at the boy's funeral, obviously grieving.
  • Bob goes to Beirut to carry out his next job and sees many men carrying all sorts of weapons. Some hold them on him as they move him from one car to another and then put a hood over his head (to go off and meet a leader).
  • We see that a man has Bob taped shirtless to a desk chair with his hands taped out in front of him. The man mentions various forms of torture, including pulling out a person's fingernails. When Bob won't talk, the man then proceeds to use a pair of pliers on Bob's fingernail, yanking it out of his finger (we see blood there as well as on the nail). The man then does it again, with more struggling and screaming on Bob's part. He then throws water in Bob's face and then proceeds to pummel him rather severely, bloodying his face quite a bit. He then grabs a large blade and says he's going to behead him, but another man enters and prevents that from happening (with no further violence).
  • When his security company calls to inform him that a motion detector has failed in his house at night, Whiting retrieves his handgun and slowly makes his way downstairs. He finds an open door, but nothing else happens as the scene cuts to another, non-suspenseful one.
  • We see that U.S. government officials are preparing to strike a convoy carrying a member of a royal family who's stirring up unrest. Bob then drives across the desert to try to stop the convoy, eventually doing so but then having guns held on him (as we hear the officials listing how far away the missile is from striking).
  • Men on a small boat break away from other boats and head toward an oil tanker. Their boat has explosives and a Stinger missile on it and they ram the tanker, but all we see is a bright flash of white light and the scene goes to the next in the movie.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns/Machine guns/Missiles/Other Explosives/Hunting Rifle/Knife: Carried and/or used to threaten, wound or kill others and/or cause property damage. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "It was a stupid f*cking question," "Then you're f*cked," "F*ck you," "What the f*ck is going on?" (mouthed), "You look like sh*t," "Shut up," "You son of a goat," "Freaking out," "Saved our ass," "Sucks," "Screwed up," "Sissy," "She has a big ass," "How the hell are you?" "You imbecile," "Way the hell above you" and "Who the hell is that?"
  • Bennett's father gives him "the finger."
  • Wasim and others join a terrorist organization and then carry out a related, suicidal attack.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • As Bob walks down the street, a car behind him suddenly explodes (presumably his work).
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of ominous and suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 20 "f" words (1 mouthed), 5 "s" words, 5 hells, 4 asses (1 used with "hole"), 1 damn, 3 uses of "G-damn" and 2 uses each of "Christ" and "For Christ's sakes."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • The camera goes up a woman's body, briefly pausing on her clothed chest (we see a little cleavage).
  • Farooq jokes to another man that Wasim is still a virgin. That man says that's good as fornication is evil, with Farooq then quickly adding that he's a virgin as well.
  • When he hears that his father has chosen Prince Meshal to succeed him, Prince Nasir states that his brother is barely qualified to run a brothel, let alone a country.
  • SMOKING
  • Bennett's father smokes a few times, while Bob's immediate boss smokes once and various miscellaneous characters smoke in several scenes.
  • Bennett's father ignores his adult son's rule of no smoking in the house by lighting up.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Bob asks his high school age son, "How's your mom?" indicating they're divorced or separated. Bob wants his son to move with him overseas, but the son wants to spend his senior year where he is.
  • Bob's son then walks out, saying "Both of my parents are professional liars."
  • Some other young kids briefly torment Bryan's 6-year-old by a pool. The boy later jumps in, but we then see him sinking underwater, with Julie panicking and Bryan jumping in to retrieve him. We see them get the boy out (his eyes are open), but we later see them at the boy's funeral, obviously grieving. Later, that boy's younger brother cries out in the night and Bryan must comfort him.
  • There's continuous tension between Bennett and his alcoholic father, with the son usually appearing disgusted with his father.
  • When Bryan comments on how much money might be coming their way from Nasir, Julie asks how it looks to profit from the death of their 6-year-old. That makes Bryan mad and he replies "F*ck you" to her and states that he did just as much parenting as her. She then says that they're going back to the U.S. and then looks surprised when Bryan replies "Good" (since she apparently meant all of them and Bryan is implying it will be just her and their other son).
  • Whiting's comment that in Washington, D.C. you're innocent until you're investigated.
  • Bryan returns home, with his son happy to see him and Julie looking surprised (we see many packing boxes in the house, indicating they're moving).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • How politics and big business are often tied together.
  • The oil industry and how it fuels governmental and business philosophies.
  • One Arab man states that liberal, Christian and western ways have failed and thus shouldn't be followed.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Covert U.S. government activities.
  • Nasir's comment that they're forced to buy over-priced planes from the U.S., but when they get a better deal with the Chinese, he's suddenly labeled a communist, etc.
  • Suicide bombers and their beliefs.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Some men push each other while trying to board a bus.
  • As Bob walks down the street, a car behind him suddenly explodes (presumably his work).
  • A boy accidentally drowns in a swimming pool.
  • Some guards with billy clubs repeatedly strike Wasim and another man for talking in line. We see them whaling away on both, with one guard pushing his club down onto one's neck on the street.
  • Bob meets an operative and hires him to assassinate Nasir. We later see a group of men enter a hotel where the Prince is headed, but rather than seizing him, they burst in and grab Bob, wrestling him to the ground where they bind and gag him.
  • We see that a man has Bob taped shirtless to a desk chair with his hands taped out in front of him. The man mentions various forms of torture, including pulling out a person's fingernails. When Bob won't talk, the man then proceeds to use a pair of pliers on Bob's fingernail, yanking it out of his finger (we see blood there as well as on the nail). The man then does it again, with more struggling and screaming on Bob's part. He then throws water in Bob's face and then proceeds to pummel him rather severely, bloodying his face quite a bit. He then grabs a large blade and says he's going to behead him, but another man enters and prevents that from happening (with no further violence).
  • A missile strikes a vehicle in a convoy, killing those inside it and killing or injuring others (seen from an aerial distance).
  • Men on a small boat break away from other boats and head toward an oil tanker. Their boat has explosives and a Stinger missile on it and they ram the tanker, but all we see is a bright flash of white light and the scene goes to the next in the movie.



  • Reviewed November 14, 2005 / Posted December 9, 2005

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