Did you get it? The slain martyr for truth and justice within a corrupt system has purer intent than the Eastern terrorist who takes another’s life along with his own. Yet Syriana is better than “neutral” or “impartial,” it’s artistically ambiguous, and enough so and in the right ways to allow for more courageous interpretations. There is an artistic restraint throughout that defies its mainstream status: it offends no one except fundamentalist nitpickers, reductionists and decontextualizers while still allowing radical interpretations that would shake the foundation of belief of those many young, inexperienced, or blind who otherwise firmly believe in a certain way of life.
Consider for a moment that it starred George Clooney and Matt Damon near to or already at the height of their fame and powers. This was around the time when both of these megashitstains actually put in sincere acting performances and thrived off that instead of reputation and mere celebrity. Their characters serve the story and mask completely the ego of the actor who, thanks to the direction, becomes a true player on the microcosmic stage where the audience sees your every move (emotion) from every microscopic camera angle.
Syriana promises much in its first hour, and truth be told (surprisingly) for a relatively big budget film dealing with these topics, is no failure in what it finally delivers (surprising because the more people you have to please, the more diluted your statement has to be). Most impressive of all is perhaps that the film is about politics but avoids being political. The achievement for Syriana, unique for a film of its kind, is that it keeps its balance and doesn’t really choose a side. It walks a tight rope to show “what is,” leaving the quest for “what aught to be” to those more able to discern.