“Green Zone” attempts to roll military action/thriller and political drama into one.
Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) and his team are assigned to find weapons of mass destruction, following the U.S. lead invasion of Iraq in 2003. But when the sites keep coming up empty, Miller starts to question the intelligence. The Bush administration’s representative, Clark Pounstone (Greg Kinnear), defends the intelligence, which is coming from a mysterious source known only as “Magellan.” Miller finds an ally in Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), a CIA operative who questions Poundstone’s claims. When Miller is approached by an Iraqi who tips him off to a meeting of Ba’ath Party officials, including Al Rawi, an expert on Iraq’s WMD, Miller sets out on a vigilante mission to find Al Rawi and discover the truth about Magellan.
Damon plays the roll of Roy Miller well, but his star power actually seems to hurt the movie more than help. Instead of seeing Roy Miller, an average solider caught in life or death situations, desperately seeking the truth behind the orders he has little choice but to follow, all we see is Matt Damon doing what he does best: act. Our familiarity with Damon keeps us from being fully brought into the raw, violent reality of war. Instead Damon reminds us the film we are watching is a work of Hollywood fiction.
Also, Gleeson’s portrayal of Martin Brown is wholly unconvincing. His American accent is so unnatural it is completely distracting. The rest of the cast does a decent job but nothing outstanding.
The hand-held camera technique used to give the viewer a sense of being in the action is more likely to cause motion sickness. The movie is fast paced and packed with explosions, gunfights and chase scenes. While this may please action junkies, the adrenaline pumped action/thriller quality of the movie seems to undermine the political commentary.
The film’s premise is based in fact, but the characters and events are fictional, offering little more to what we already have come to learn about Iraq’s phantom WMD’s. What could have been used as a platform to educate people on the past administration’s deeds will probably be used instead to fuel the conservative right’s accusations of a liberal bias in Hollywood.
If you are a fan of military action movies, check out “Green Zone.” But if you are looking for an insightful political critique, you probably won’t find it here.
Rating: ?/4 stars
Release date: March 12
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, and Brendan Gleeson