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Stars: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Christopher Plummer, Amanda Peet, Chris Cooper, Jeffrey Wright, Nicky Henson

Director: Stephen Gaghan

Like most of George Clooney's recent films, this wears its heart on its sleeve, and has something relevant to say about the world today. But its story is too elliptical, too enigmatic and too evasive. In fact you may find it difficult to work all or indeed any of what's going on in the early stages of this bristlingly anti-American tale of the lengths to which various interests will go, in order to control oil rights in the vast tract stretching from Syria to India, notably Iran and Kazakhstan.

Clooney plays a veteran CIA agent cast adrift by his bosses when a contract turns bad and he loses a Stinger missile, and Damon an 'energy trader' looking for opportunities in the Middle East. The second half improves as the plot threads begin to pull together, but you could still struggle to understand the whole of it.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Warner Brothers. Technicolor.
128 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 01 Jan 2007