There are murders and international intrigue, as well as two subplots. One involves Matt Damon as an American derivatives trader living in Geneva with his beautiful wife (Amanda Peet) and their two very cute little boys. The other is about two young Arab men looking for work and being courted by fringe terrorist groups. Damon is so good that he is likely to get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work. Of Clooney’s whole "Ocean’s 11" posse, Damon is easily the most talented.
"He’s it, the real thing," Clooney said when we talked about Damon.
Damon is a standout, but there are plenty of "smaller" roles played by terrific actors including Tom McCarthy, Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer, Mazhar Munir, Jeffrey Wright, Tim Blake Nelson (who has a funny speech explaining the historical importance of corruption) and the memorable Alexander Siddig (as the smart prince). Indeed, the actors are so uniformly good from the start that they all seem very real, as does the situation. This is 'Fahrenheit 411’, meaning full of urgent information that rings true in every scene. Liberals and conservatives all have to put gas in their cars. One look at the prices, and you know that "Syriana" is not far off base.
Syriana is not always easy to follow. Sometimes I felt like I needed a study guide. But Gaghan has made such an engrossing film that you can actually suspend disbelief and just go with it. Once you’re in, you’re in, too. I don’t know if it will make money or be a Best Picture candidate, but Syriana is the most intelligent movie of 2005 so far, and incredibly satisfying.
I enjoyed Matt Damon in the Jason Bourne spy movies. Will he make another one anytime soon? Tom Dean, Mesa, Ariz.
There's talk of a third, "The Bourne Ultimatum," but Damon, in "Syriana" opening Wednesday, is now making "The Good Shepherd," about the CIA, with Robert De Niro directing. He's also got Martin Scorsese's "The Departed" opening next year. Most important is his engagement to Luciana Barroso. Damon is hoping to follow friend Ben Affleck into fatherhood. Just days before Damon proposed to Barroso he told us, "I'd love to be a dad. I hope I'd be great at it."