Saturday, July 3, 2010

Film Review: The Green Zone

"The Green Zone" *** (out of ****)

"The Green Zone" (2010) like any other politically themed movie is going to divide its audience even before the credits roll. If the movie shares your political views chances are you are going to like it. It will allow you the opportunity to yell at the screen, "that's what I've always said." If it counters your views, you'll describe it as junk.

"The Green Zone" takes place at the start of the Iraq War and soldiers are on the hunt for WMDs. One soldier, Miller (Matt Damon) slowly begins to realize, there doesn't seem to be any weapons to be found. After he arrives at three sites which American intelligence have claimed had weapons only to find the areas deserted. How can this be? Could Americans have gotten it wrong?

But Miller isn't the only one who suspects Americans may have gotten it wrong. So does a CIA agent Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) who suspects Iraq may quickly turn into a civil war.

The big secret here is government officials like Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) may have deliberately gotten it wrong merely to advance their own desire for war and to remove Saddam Hussein. So they cooked up the intelligence about WMDs just so America could invade the country. And how the press, here represented by Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan) sheepishly accepted whatever they were told about the war and drummed up support from the public.

"The Green Zone" doesn't start with a "based on a true story", but it mixes fact and fiction. Names have been changed but if you follow the news you can tell who is suppose to be who. Even actual footage is used of President Bush's "Mission Accomplish" speech.

A lot of critics beat the movie up because they said everything presented here was already known by the public. The film told us nothing new. Michael Wilmington of Movie City News wrote "my main complaint with taking that official screw-up as a subject is that it comes seven years late." Chris Tookey of "The Daily Mail", a British newspaper, echoed the same sentiment and went on to add, "too much of the film has the air of being aimed at ignorant American teenagers."

But I take objection to this for a few reasons. First of all, I don't go to the movies to keep up with current events. That's why I watch CNN. Secondly, as far as waiting too long to make the movie, when was it suppose to be released? Before the war? A year after? Not all the facts were finally revealed to the public. It would have been a much different picture. Also, in 10 years from now, no one is going to watch this movie and have the same complaint.

The film was directed by Paul Greengrass, who directed "United 93" (2006) the film about the September 11th attacks. Back than the cries were "too soon" now the cry is "too late". This guy can't win. He also directed Matt Damon before in two of the "Bourne" films; "Bourne Supremacy" (2004) and "Bourne Ultimatum" (2007). And Damon was in another war movie, "Saving Private Ryan" (1998), his first movie after his "Good Will Hunting" (1997) fame.

I do have one problem with "The Green Zone". A lot of people fell the movie is very political. I did not. I wish it would have been more political. I wish Miller would have uncovered these clues more slowly. I wish the film would have made more comments about the policy. Not only on the ground but those made in the White House as well.

My only other complaint would be some of the action scenes are too frantic, too rapidly edited. Much like the "Bourne" movies. It becomes hard to follow.

Still "The Green Zone" is well made. Matt Damon gives an effective performance and I liked Greg Kinnear. Even if you disagree with the movie's politics it is an adequate thriller.