Syriana is a film for which a good review becomes a dangerous expose’. For it would reveal what any movie, as an entertainment medium, can couch behind the label of fiction, but that, in effect is a very real portrayal of the alarming international crimes practiced on a staggering scale by almost all players competing today for their own concepts of a trade “balance of power” based on an  artificially propped “coin of the realm” oil has become. Based on the Robert Baer book, See No Evil, script writer Stephen Gaghan has written a magnificent adaptation that appreciates both the complexity and intrigue behind the forces that move against any attempt to challenge the oil cartel’s stranglehold on the Middle East and that might threaten what it deems it’s own devised system of power placement.

George Clooney performs admirably in his role as CIA agent, Bob Barnes, ordered to set up an assassination on an Arab prince that begins the process of taking his father’s throne in order to provide his nation with a plan for industrialization utilizing their own resources (thereby bringing the agency’s wraith upon him as a “bad guy”.) This prince, played by the gifted Alexander Siddig, has acquired an erudite financial adviser, Bryan Woodman, beautifully portrayed by Matt Damon. Tragic interplay occurs between Woodman and his wife, Julie (the lovely Amanda Peet) when they lose a young son to an accident on the prince’s premises. But it is the mutual vision both these men entertain that brings them together and not the accusation of the boy’s death forging a dubious bond, just another element of depth for which this excellent movie abounds.

At the beginning Clooney is delivering a pair of high-grade explosive devices to Arabs under CIA operational orders. He makes a point to determine when one is turned over to another party outside that intended and that it is by a non-Farsi-speaking peoples. Skillfully woven into one single driving destiny, events conspire to bring the fate of these three men, the prince, Bob Barnes and Bryan Woodman to a common nexus. While that device will end in sealing the ultimate resolution to the rest of the conflict at the hands of fundamentalist Moslem beliefs opportunised to meet the occasion.

Two things thus unfold as revelation at the hands of this telling, one: possession and employment of a satellite based energy weapon and the manipulation of religious fundamentalists by ALL parties as assassins. With the admission of such a weapon the question is begged, “why hasn’t it been employed on Osama bin Laden? The next revelation is, nothing can be taken for granted as far as determining those responsible when terrorist acts are conducted under the guise of religious fanaticism.

The typically sterling performance of Christopher Plummer as Dean Whiting, the ultimate liason between government agencies and the oil cartel’s interests, exposes an example of a man with ultimate power. Plummer is superbly cast in this role. Casting is just one more of this films many attributes.

All in all, this film is a good basis for obtaining an appreciation for the complexity needed behind forming any educated opinion on the Middle East today.

Graphic, but no nudity. Alarming, but real. Too complex for most children and some adults.

The best movie of its kind this reviewer has seen. …and, yes, my regards to the spectacular direction by Stephen Gaghan. Kind of goes without saying.