- Movie Rating -

Green Zone (2010)

| March 12, 2010 | 0 Comments

Green Zone is one the of cleverest war pictures that I have ever seen. More than any other film about the war in Iraq – and there are a lot of them – this film uses the standards of an action picture to ask questions about a war that was suspicious from the beginning. Why did we go to war with Iraq? How did we get information about weapons of mass destruction? Did our government create and manipulate this war in order to cover up the fact that its interest in Iraq was little more than a cover-up for a billion dollar enterprise.

Yet, it is not a political lecture. The movie could claim to have an answers to these questions, but it never hammers down the idea that it has rock solid facts. Within this story, which is an action picture from start to finish, director Paul Greengrass skillfully seeks the truth, asks uncomfortable questions and makes an entertaining movie in the process. Like The Hurt Locker, it uses its characters personality to movie the action along so that we have a better investment into what is happening.

The film is set in Iraq in 2003, and stars Matt Damon as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, the head of a team that moves into specific locations to root out WMD and other possible chemical weapons. The problem: His Intel is no good, and his targets are turning up nothing. In the film’s opening scene, he and his team move in on a supposed storehouse of chemical weapons and find that it is a toilet factory that has been abandoned for a decade. This seems to be happening over and over. Where is it coming from? Why does it lead nowhere? Why are he and his men being led down blind alleys? Why are his men being led to their deaths with one bogus mission after another? The search for those answers become the focal point of Miller’s investigation. He speaks up at a briefing about his fruitless efforts, which gets him noticed by a snaky Intelligence Agent named Poundstone (Greg Kinnear). This man, the movie suspects, represents the architects, a political puppet who is working in Iraq to keep the war raging so that a smooth American occupation of the country can take place.

With that, Miller is told to stay quiet and do his duty without question. The answers open his eyes to alarming facts about exactly why he and his fellow soldiers are fighting in Iraq in the first place Miller simply cannot let these question go unanswered. She slips under the radar of the military brass to uproot the truth. His investigation builds from a matter of simple bogus intelligence, to a suspicion that the entirety of the war is built on lies, false starts, cover-ups and political machinery. The best thing about Green Zone is that director Paul Greengrass makes every step clear enough that we can follow it without having to do any prep work. We know, from moment to moment, only what Miller knows and it all makes logical sense. He moves through a network of reliable sources to get the information that he needs.

We care what happens to Miller because the film establishes him as a smart, intuitive soldier who simply wants to uncover the truth. This is one of Damon’s best performances. He plays Miller as a man who is always thinking. He is smart enough that when a tense situation arises, he has to think fast and say just the right thing to keep from being caught or killed.

The film works on logic and makes a spare use of characters that make the action scenes far more enjoyable. Like the last two Jason Bourne pictures – which Greengrass also directed – the action scenes are based on characters, not on pumped-up thrills. The movie earns those action scenes. The third act is made up of a tense shootout as Miller comes face to face with and Iraqi General – one of Saddam’s top men – who wants him dead, while moving fast to avoid the Special Forces team who are coming in to capture The General before Miller can get his answers.

Within the context of those skillful action scenes, the movie’s perspective on the war is always percolating. It seems to follow the logic that the war in Iraq was, and is, fought over fictionalized reasons and immoral acts. The screenplay never shies away from that, nor does it makes bold speeches. The accusations are made within the story so the viewer can take away from it what they wish. This is a skillfully made action picture, the best kind, the kind that will spark huge debate when it is over.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2010) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Drama, Thriller, War