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USA & UK: Warner Bros Pictures
Cast: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Jeffrey Wright, Chris Cooper, William Hurt, Mazhar Munir, Tim Blake Nelson, Amanda Peet, Christopher Plummer, Alexander Siddig, Kayvan Novak, Amr Waked, Robert Foxworth, Nicky Henson, Nicholas Art, Steven Hinkle, Daisy Torme, Peter Gerety, Richard Lintern, Jocelyn Quivrin, Shahid Ahmed, Bikram Singh Bhamra, Roger Yuan, Jayne Atkinson, Tom McCarthy, Jamey Sheridan, Randall Boffman, Tony French, Max Minghella, Katie Foster, Nadim Sawalha, Ozzie Yue, Akbar Kurtha, Sonell Dadral, Jon Lee Anderson, Othman Bin Hendi, Bashar H Atiyat, Ali Al Amine, William C Mitchell, Ahmed AA Mohammed, Ahmed Ayoub, Mohammed Asad Khan, Atta Mohammed Saleh, Aziz Zacca, David Clennon, Omar Mostafa, Said Amadis, David J Manners, Jamil Jabbar, Badria Timimi, Mohammed Majd, Mark Strong, Driss Roukhe, Katherine Hoskins Mackey, Linda E Williams, Susan Allenbach, William L Thomas, El Mahjoub Raji, Michael Stone Forrest, Bob Baer, Fritz Michel, Bob Fajkowski, Jeff Baker, Tarik Tamzali, Mitesh Soni, Tootsie Duvall, Nabeel Noman, Ryan Murphy, Will McCormack, Donna Mitchell, James Plannette, Michael Allinson
Director: Stephen Gaghan
USA: 126 mins
UK: 127 mins
USA Rated: R for violence and language
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong violence and language
USA Release Date: 9 December 2005
USA Release Date: 25 November 2005 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 3 March 2006
"Corruption charges...corruption? Corruption is government intrusion into market efficiencies in the form of regulation. That's Milton Friedman. He got a goddamn Nobel Prize. We have laws against it precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the street. Corruption...is why we win."
- Tim Blake Nelson as Danny Dalton to Jeffrey Wright as Bennett Holiday
From writer/director Stephen Gaghan, winner of the Best Screenplay Academy Award for TRAFFIC, comes SYRIANA, a political thriller that unfolds against the intrigues and corruption of the global oil industry. From the players brokering back-room deals in Washington to the men toiling in the oil fields of the Persian Gulf, the film's multiple storylines weave together to illuminate the human consequences of the fierce pursuit of wealth and power.
The intrigue takes place against the backdrop of an oil-producing Gulf country, where young, charismatic and reform-minded Prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig) is seeking to change long-established relationships with U.S. business interests. Nasir, the apparent heir to the throne, has just granted natural gas drilling rights - long held by Connex, a Texas energy giant - to a higher Chinese bid. This is a huge blow to Connex and American business interests in the region. Killen, a smaller Texas oil company owned by Jimmy Pope (Chris Cooper), has just won the very competitive drilling rights to coveted fields in Kazakhstan. This makes Killen very attractive to Connex, who now needs new territory to maintain its production capacity. When the two companies merge, the pending deal attracts the scrutiny of the Justice Dept., and Sloan Whiting, a powerful white-shoe Washington law firm, is brought in to perform due diligence.
Bob Barnes (George Clooney) is a veteran CIA agent nearing the end of a long and respectable career, with a son headed for college (Max Minghella) and the possibility of spending the latter days of his service in a cushy desk job. A devoted company man, Bob's always been a true believer that his work benefits his government and makes his country a safer place.
In Bob's last assignment, an assassination of two arms dealers in Tehran, a Stinger missile falls into the hands of a mysterious blue-eyed Egyptian. On his return to Washington, Bob is promised a promotion after one last undercover mission - assassinating Prince Nasir. But when one of his field contacts turns on him and the assassination attempt goes terribly awry, Bob is scapegoated by the CIA, betrayed by the organization to which he has devoted his life. As he searches to understand what has happened, he begins to realize that he has been lied to - used as a pawn and never privy to the real motivation for the assignments he has blindly carried out for years.
Bennett Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) is an ambitious Washington attorney at Sloan Whiting, in charge of the delicate task of guiding the Connex-Killen merger through the deep waters of D.C. He needs to give the Justice Department enough material to make their case against Killen for its shady dealings in Kazakhstan without jeopardizing the entire deal. It's in the company and the country's interest that the merger go through. It also serves Bennett's ambitions - ambitions fueled by a father (William C Mitchell) he is constantly at odds with.
Energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon) is a rising star at an energy trading company, living with his wife Julie (Amanda Peet) and their two young sons in Geneva. When he attends a party thrown by Prince Nasir's family, a tragic accident results in the death of Bryan's young son. Nasir attempts to make amends for what happened, offering Bryan a business opportunity to help the young leader realize his reformist ideas - an opportunity Bryan embraces, to the dismay of his grieving wife.
Dean Whiting (Christopher Plummer), Bennett's boss, the head of Sloan Whiting and one of the most powerful men in Washington, is trying to undo Nasir's deal with the Chinese. He knows that Nasir's younger, more callow brother, Prince Meshal (Akbar Kurtha), will be more amenable to American business interests and he pressures the aging Emir to choose his younger son to succeed him, effectively engineering Nasir's political demise.
At the other end of the wage scale in Nasir's country are the migrant laborers toiling in its energy fields, whose lives are directly and drastically affected by the royal family's policies and the vagaries of the industry. Connex workers Saleem Ahmed Kahn (Shahid Ahmed) and his son Wasim (Mazhar Munir) have just been laid off from their jobs in the fields when the Chinese take them over, and their future becomes increasingly uncertain as they search in vain for work before their visas run out. Saleem dreams of someday returning to Pakistan; his son hopes for a better life but quickly becomes disillusioned and angry at the way he and his father are treated as immigrant workers in the Gulf. Wasim and his friend Farooq (Sonnell Dadral) find solace at the local madrassa, a place where they are treated with dignity in an otherwise bleak and unfamiliar world. At the madrassa, Wasim and Farooq are taken under the wing of a charismatic and dangerous recruiter - the blue-eyed Egyptian with the missing Stinger missile.
Sheiks and field workers, government inspectors and international spies, rich and poor, the famous and infamous - each plays their small part in the vast and complex system that powers the industry, none realizing the true extent of the explosive impact their lives will have upon the world.
Written and directed by STEPHEN GAGHAN, the film was suggested by the book See No Evil by Robert Baer.