Review: Green Zone

A complicated subject matter boiled down into a simple action adventure, conspiracy, goodish vs. evilish movie that would have benefited from a bit more story.

Paul Greengrass reteams with Matt Damon (both did the last two Bourne movies) to give us Green Zone, a story of one man trying to discover the truth about the reality of WMDs in Iraq while “the man” tries to keep him down for the greater good. If you liked the Bourne movies, you may not necessarily like this.  It’s about the gazillionth (ok, about sixth) attempt to strike box office gold with an Iraq war story.  This isn’t it.

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THE SETUP:
Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) has repeatedly led his squad into hostile territory on orders to find WMDs. The search isn’t going well as the weapons don’t exist. (I’m not giving anything away here if you’ve been paying attention to the news for the past 7 years). Fed up with failure, Miller tries to get to the bottom of where the bad Intel is coming from and what the real agenda of his government is.  The path is covered with those that want to help (Brendan Gleason as a CIA agent), those that don’t (Greg Kinnear as a high-level government advisor) and those who want the real story to be reported back home (Amy Ryan as a reporter).

THE THOUGHTS:
This movie would have been sooooo much better had it been released about 2-3 years ago when the Iraq War was a bit more on the public’s mind.  Sad but true. The issue whether there were or weren’t weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and the reasons the U.S. went into Iraq have already really been played out in real life so there aren’t many surprises here. There have already been a few movies and documentaries on the war, and done better (Hurt Locker, Black Hawk Down) so this seems really out of date.

The characters in this all seem to be voices.

  • Matt Damon (what the public should have been like at the time) – what the “F”?
  • Greg Kinnear (government) – greater good, doesn’t matter how we got here.
  • Amy Ryan (media) – we went with it because the government said they were there and now we feel all bad inside and used.
  • Khalid Abdalla (Iraq) – what the hell are you guys doing here and why are you making things worse?

Each actor plays their part well if not predictably. Matt Damon, the catalyst for the movie, is very point A to point B.  Not a lot of acting range needed for the situation but he gets the movie where it needs to go.  Brandon Gleason and Amy Ryan are fantastic actors with not a lot to do here besides repeating how “this is all bad and stuff” and “we were all so naïve.” Greg Kinnear seems to relish the asshole role he’s given but the real stand out to me is Khalid Abdalla as “Freddy,” an Iraqi citizen just trying to look out for his country.  Passionate, disappointed, frustrated, overwhelmed. A great role and I hope to see him again in something.

The story was too basic.  There felt like there should have been more.  More explanation, more story, more characters, more information.  Just more. The simplicity is a negative when you’re telling a story we already know, have already been angry about it and moved on.  Why should we care now?  This movie wasn’t necessary.

GREEN ZONE Rating:
1 star – it’s a renter. If you’re looking for a straight up war movie, than you will be entertained.  If you’re looking to learn something or feel something, not the movie for you.  Sorry Green Zone, too little too late.

Coming Attractions:
TRON Legacy (release date: December 17, 2010) – I’ve mentioned it before, I’m a kid of the 80s. So until they remake WarGames, I’m giddy for this sequel to TRON. They’ve brought back the original two actors Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner, used the latest in CGI and added 3-D. Oh and Olivia Wilde is in it who’s a special effect all by herself. So sweet your eyes will get diabetes.

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Random Recommendations
Flash of Genius (2008) – Greg Kinnear is a small time inventor who comes up with the intermittent windshield wiper. Seems simple enough. Except that the car companies stole his idea and gave him no credit and no cash. A great story of perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds and the cost of that determination.  True story to boot.

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Taxi to the Dark Side (2007) – if you want amazing stories of injustice and wrongs needed to be right, check out this documentary on the U.S. policies on torture during the Iraq War. A young Afghan cab driver is picked up by U.S. soldiers and detained and interrogated for no just cause…leading to an in depth look at the tortured, the torturees and those that didn’t want to know about it, just results. This will make you angry.

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 Review: Green Zone
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Comments

  1. I’m sure I’ll rent it, but know I’m nervous. I still value two hours of time lost.

    “This movie would have been sooooo much better had it been released about 2-3 years ago when the Iraq War was a bit more on the public’s mind. Sad but true.”

    It is sad and doesn’t have to be true. The timing of this movie could be significant in a Bizarro world where Hollywood actually has moral, cultural relevance. We shouldn’t forget that the reasons given to invade a sovereign nation where false and those responsible should not be left off the hook.

    Is this a much needed reminder…or an easy excuse for a cash-action movie disguised as a morality yard stick?

  2. I can’t disagree that it’s a good reminder. However, the drama, the disgust, the injustice already played out like a Movie of the Week over the multiple news outlets. So it just seems like a retread of a story we’ve already done. Especially because it was the simplified version. It might have been better as a documentary.

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