April 4, 2010
Review - " Green Zone " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Amy Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson
With The Hurt Locker emerging as a winner at the Oscars, it must have
seemed like propitious timing for Universal Pictures' release of their
Matt Damon starring war actioner, Green Zone. But this new movie –
with its big budget and "big picture" themes – skids into dangerous
storytelling territory. And occasionally risks shooting itself in the foot, at
least for a particular movie-going demographic.
Here's what I mean: The Hurt Locker focused entirely on the harrowing
day-to-day realities experienced by grunts on the ground. In contrast,
director Paul Greengrass' Green Zone sports a full-on political bent,
positing that the entire war effort resulted from fabricated intel
pertaining to weapons of mass destruction.
The primary source of the WMD misdirection posited in this film is a
Pentagon suit named Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear). Just like all
true believers in a cause, Poundstone is gung ho and mission-
focused. It's full speed ahead with this whole converting-Iraq-to-
democracy scheme, and damn the torpedoes.
One of the poor slobs in the (mine)field tasked with carrying out
Poundstone's bogus agenda is Chief Warrant Officer Miller (Matt
Damon). Miller and his squad have been coming up frustratingly empty
in their efforts to find and secure chemical and biological weapons,
even though they're operating on site-specific intel supplied to them by
field command. The intel supposedly derives from a classified Iraqi
human resource codenamed "Magellan."
The fast and furious, action-driven story follows Miller and his loyal squad members as they engage in a series of risky, off-
the-grid escapades to corral Magellan – and, thereby, the truth. Along the way Miller meets up with Wall Street Journal
reporter Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan), Iraq/Iran war veteran "Freddy" (Khalid Abdalla), and a ruthless spec ops field
commander named Briggs (Jason Isaacs). Miller eventually earns a face-to-face interview with shadowy Iraqi general Al
Rawi (Yigal Naor), but the meet comes at great risk to Miller's continued well being.
Assisting Miller in his loose cannon espionage pursuits is an old school CIA operative named Brown (Brendan Gleeson).
For reasons that seem to stem mostly from a need to shade the otherwise starkly black and white plot, Brown and
Poundstone are at loggerheads in the grand game of chess that is wartime interagency rivalry.
Greengrass once again challeges his audience's equilibrium with his use of floating, unstable, herky-jerky camera setups. It
can be argued that this convention fits well in a chaotic combat environment, adding to the perceived confusion of the
experience. It can also be argued that
Dramamine sales from theater snack
counters might add a couple million to
the film's take.
The shootout scenes are thrilling,
and our glimpse inside the isolated
opulence of the "Emerald City"
(centered in one of Saddam's former
palaces) is eye-opening, but is this
enough to make Green Zone a
worthwhile weekend movie
destination? Not really, rent The Hurt
Locker on DVD instead.