It was time for a double feature today in the Johnson world- is it painfully obvious I'm done with my semester before everyone else? Anyway, Syriana was a first rate film. I especially enjoy movies that challenge the viewer. The Godfather Part II is emblematic of this for me- you have to pay careful attention to understand everything that is going on, which I think reward careful filmwatching. Syriana definitely challenges the viewer- politically and narratively. Like its predecessor, Traffic, it has no easy answers for a difficult and pressing problem, presenting a pessimistic narrative. Also, like Traffic, it features fine performances and a gripping narrative scope.
It is always a good sign when a movie that runs longer than two hours can keep your attention rapt throughout, and this film does a fine job at that. My only complaint would be that the movie really is only an informative narrative, albeit one with a clear political perspective. To take on such avowedly political subject matter without a clear proposal in mind seems risky to me, unless the filmmakers think that the public needs to know what is going on in the crazy geopolitical world of oil barons and failed states. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed this film- with King Kong and Munich on the way, 2005 may be barely saved for us all.