This movie was intriguing…if you look past the left-wing wacko theory Clooney and cohorts are trying to push (there will be no peace in the Middle East if it doesn’t help American big business)…because if you look past the politics of the movie, it’s really fun to watch. But because the politics are there, this film screams propaganda. Which is sad because it was a lot like a Tom Clancy novel and I am a big fan of his blend of political intrigue (as opposed to Robert Ludlum’s). Just such a damn shame that artists have to send political messages with their art..

The movie takes its name from what some think-tanks in Washington D.C. would call the Ideal Middle-Eastern State*. It follows George Clooney, an undercover agent (specializing in getting information out of people and then killing them) who loves to send memos (why?) and Matt Damon, an energy analyst for a big firm who takes on the job as advisor to Dr. Julian Bashir of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I’m sorry, but I just think it’s so cool that after all these years, Alexander Siddig has been in two films within such a short amount of time (Kingdom of Heaven rules!). It just makes me all giggle-y. Siddig plays Prince Nasir Al-Subaai who wants to re-envision the way his country does business with the world. He brokers a deal with China for oil distribution which would give him the money and power to revolutionize his backwards country. Unfortunately, the CIA (under a Republican president no doubt) can’t let that happen because it’s not good for big oil. Here’s where the movie’s purportedly main theme shines through: corruption. While all this is going on, two big U.S. oil companies are proposing a merger and awaiting government approval which brings in Bennett Holiday, a lawyer seeking the broken laws behind all the “corruption” that’s kept big oil in business all these years. The all-star supporting cast (including Tim Blake Nelson, William Hurt, Chris Cooper and Christopher Plummer (the original anti-Nazi! … Captain Von Trapp? From the Sound of Music movie with Julie Andrews? Oh come on!)) weighs in on the matter causing Clooney and Damon to hem and haw, but in the end, corruption wins and American oil companies merge and are more profitable than ever. And to top it off, nothing is really being done about stopping the creation of fundamentalist Islamists who want to blow up the West. Now, isn’t that just a pretty picture for the holidays?

*Got that from a Matt Damon interview in Premiere. He doesn’t think this movie is “against” anything except for corruption…in a sense that is the truth. Unfortunately, the movie suggests that the corruption is at the very core of our nation and there’s no escaping it, which is baloney.

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