starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper
written and directed by Stephen Gaghan
by Walter Chaw An omnibus of shorthand outrage standing in place of actual information, Stephen Gaghan's perfectly respectable--principled, even--Syriana reassures us with its glut of disconnected pop-up liberal soundbites that it's weary and wise enough for the both of us should it be the case, most likely, that we're just weary. But on the off chance there's nothing to connect to here despite all the grandstanding, it makes clear that at the end of the day it's really about something as simple as not taking your family for granted. Call it the secular Magnolia, itself a similarly longish, flashy film that was also about being kind to your children. There isn't anything for us to do with the dry intellectualizing of Syriana: once we're told that the CIA sends assassins around the world, that sometimes Arab kids are turned into suicide bombers by wackos, that the oil industry is a nepotistic disaster, and that as soon as the oil runs out in the Middle East, the emirs of Saudi Arabia will be back "in tents, chopping each other's heads off," what are we left with but justification for our under-informed fears and lazy superiority?