A CIA agent is betrayed by his contact who he tries to hire to assassinate a Saudi Prince on behalf of the US government, and then he is betrayed by the CIA agency as well. George Clooney plays the lead character of Bob Barnes. Barnes is a CIA operative whose job is to set up assassinations of foreign rulers, leaders, or others in positions of power and influence which go against the strategic global policy of the United States. Barnes is in Tehran. He pretends to be an illegal arms dealer. He sells two sophisticated RPGs to a terrorist group. One of the RPGs is given to another buyer who he does not know, but he confronts him. and learns he is not Persian, but Arabic. One RPG escapes his control, but the other one is loaded into the car of the terrorist buyer and a few seconds later it explodes killing them all.
Two America oil companies announce their merger in order to exploit the oil fields in Kazakhstan. This causes the lay-off of many blue collar workers in Saudi Arabia, when the two companies combine operations. One of the workers is a young man from Pakistan named Wasim (played by Mazhur Munir). After being fired, he tries to find other work, but quickly learns there is nothing available. So, with his brother, he joins an extremist religious group instead.
Barnes is given the job to assassinate the first son of the Saudi King, Prince Nasir (played by Alexander Siddig), because Prince Nasir's political ideals differ from the interests of the United States. The U.S. government is especially irritated because Prince Nasir approved a deal with the Chinese instead of giving the oil deal to the Americans. A financial analyst named Bryan Woodman (played by Matt Damon) is sent on an assignment to get the story. Woodman is encouraged to bring his family (wife and children) with him on the trip because the Saudis have a great respect for the family and love children.
Woodman goes to Saudi Arabia with his family. When he goes to the party for the King, where he was invited to see him, he is given the brush-off and does not get to meet the King as he expected. Instead he meets Prince Nasir. At the party, there is a faullty electrical circuit in the swimming pool light. When Woodman's son jumps into the water he is electrocuted and dies. This is an horrible embarrassment to the Saudi Royal family, who raze the house and put a park in the place of the house. They offer Woodman a contract for his financial advisory firm worth $75 Million and the Prince offers Woodman himself $100 million to become his global economic adviser. Woodman and his wife fight over this because it seems like pay-off money for the death of her son, to her. She leaves him and goes back to the United States. But Woodman has good ideas how to help Prince Nasir. Woodman gains the respect of the Prince. Woodman also respects the Prince as well, because of his progressive political stance on building the strength of his country and improving the rights of women who live there.
In the USA, the Justice Department is investigating the proposed merger of the two major oil companies. As a defensive measure, the oil baron Jimmy Pope (played by Chris Cooper) hires a consultant Dean Whiting (played by Christopher Plummer) who then hires a major law firm to do an internal investigation to be performed by Bennett Holiday (played by Jeffrey Wright). This strategy is supposed to uncover any improprieties and/or illegal acts in the deal to get the rights to exploit the Kazakhstan oil fields. The idea is, if the oil company finds the evidence first before it is uncovered by the Justice Department, any problems uncovered are manageable and can be dealt with so they merger may go forward. Holiday does a thorough investigation and does find clear evidence of corruption. The Justice department asks for two fall guys so to the public it will appear they did their job and the deal can then go forward. Holiday negotiates a secret deal to give the Justice Department what they want.
When Barnes goes to Lebanon to assassinate Prince Nasir while he is visiting there, he meets with the head of the Hezbollah and asks permission to enter the country for some business with the Prince. Barnes hires a contract killer names Mussawi (played by Mark Strong) to kill the Prince and asks Mussawi to make it look like an accident. But Mussawi is loyal to the Prince and instead of killing the Prince he captures Barnes and tortures him to get more information. Barnes is close to death and Mussawi is ready to kill Barnes. but he is interrupted by the Hezbollah who promised Barnes safe passage in their country.
Barnes returns to the U.S. to recover in the hospital, only to find out the story of the attempted assassination has been leaked by Mussawi to the international press. Barnes becomes the fall-guy to give the CIA cover for what they tried but failed to do. Barnes realizes Prince Wasir is still a target. He goes back to Saudi to warn him. Barnes gets up to convoy of cars, traveling in the desert, one of which contains the Prince. Prince Wasir intends to execute a coup and is on the way to deliver his message when his entourage is attacked. The Prince's car is exploded by a bomb from a US drone. The Prince is killed. Barnes is also killed in the explosion. Woodman who is in a different car, barely escapes with his life.
Wasim and his brother drive a fishing boat loaded with explosives and the RPG from Barnes into a gigantic harbor-based storage facility of liquid petroleum gas at the spot where all the executives from the two American oil companies are celebrating the merger. There is a massive explosion. Woodman goes back to the USA. He reunites with his loving wife and his other still living son.
Best part of story, including ending:
This is a very interesting story about political corruption at the highest levels.
Best scene in story:
The best scene is when the extremist terrorist group drives a fishing boat into huge tank storage of liquid petroleum gas because at this point in the story we really want to see the bad guys get some pay back.
Opinion about the main character:
Barnes is a very interesting character because he is a contract killer without any conscience and he is completely betrayed by the CIA agency he works for doing the dirty work.