Oil drives greed in Oscar-winning Traffic screenwriter Stephen Gaghan's labyrinthine sophomore directorial effort that traces the corruption of the global oil industry from the backrooms of Washington, D.C., to the petroleum-rich fields of the Middle East. Based in part on the writings of former CIA case officer Robert Baer, Syriana combines multiple storylines to explore the complexities that befall a proposed merger between two U.S. oil giants. Reform-minded Gulf country prince Nasir (Alexander Siddig) is in favor of making his nation more self-sufficient rather than U.S.-reliant, and his money-minded Western connections couldn't be less pleased. Before settling into a cushy desk job for the remainder of his career, CIA agent Bob Barnes (George Clooney) is sent on one last assignment -- to assassinate Prince Nasir and reinstate U.S. ties in the oil-rich region. Though his loyalty dictates that Barnes carry out his current mission despite lingering doubts of a previous blunder, his mission goes horribly awry when his field contact goes turncoat and Barnes becomes a CIA scapegoat. Meanwhile, up-and-coming Washington attorney Bennett Holiday (Jeffrey Wright) attempts to walk a fine line in overseeing a tenuous merger between two oil giants that's plagued with shady business dealings. Hotshot energy analyst Bryan Woodman (Matt Damon) is in talks to form a lucrative partnership with Prince Nasir, though the death of his son during a party at the prince's estate makes him question his loyalty to business over family. Back in Washington, D.C., Bennet's boss Dean Whiting attempts to undermine Prince Nasir's attempts to make his country less reliant on the U.S. dollar by planting the seeds of dissonance between the progressive prince and his money-minded younger brother Prince Meshal (Akbar Kurtha).
by Jason Buchanan synopsis