Green Zone is an action thriller war film directed by Paul Greengrass. The film is credited as having been ‘inspired’ by the non-fiction 2006 book ‘Imperial Life in the Emerald City’ by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran (say that 10 times quick), which documented life in the Green Zone, Baghdad during the Iraq Invasion. The film stars Matt Damon, Amy Ryan, Greg Kinnear, and Brendan Gleeson.
This film has been a long time coming, both figuratively and literally. The slow turn around for films about current affairs comes the first glut of Iraq based films debuting first with ‘The Hurt Locker’ and now this. Also, Green Zone has been 3 years in the making due to various changes in production – but it was worth the wait.
The political conspiracy thriller, where American senior officials play the bad guys, are becoming Greengrass’ speciality. He is not afraid to make a film that says something important, and Green Zone definitely does that. As soldier Roy Miller (Damon) is quickly realising that the intelligence documenting which sites contain WMD’s (Weapons of Mass Destruction), and the very reason for war, are proving to be unfruitful. As Miller begins to unravel a story of political lies and conspiracy he risks his career and life in the search for truth, slowly building to an exciting crescendo.
This is being billed by many as ‘Bourne 4′, but I think that’s a huge insult to Damon’s acting ability and the production crews efforts to make this a politically relevant movie. The similarities with the Bourne trilogy end in the editing room with Greengrass’ journalisitic style of directing. The camera follows the scenes, making it feel like you are in the room and a member of each meeting. As a character, Miller couldn’t be anymore different to Bourne. This is highlighted when Miller gets easily handled by a colleague mid-way through the film. Miller isn’t soft, but he’s not the indestructible agent we all love from the aforementioned trilogy.
Damon does an excellent job of making a character that’s genuinely concerned with the reasons behind the mission than just carrying out the orders, of course, some of this praise has to be passed onto the script. No doubt throngs of patriotic Americans will chastise the film for showing their soldiers in a bad light, despite not finding WMD’s to be a reality. The only criticisms that can be truly leveled at Green Zone are that it does take somewhat intense political questions and place them in a simply mainstream situation and dumb it down profusely. The script is somewhat limited to a relatively short storyline and Greengrass does his best to stretch this out with his slow, chiseling techniques of story-telling.
This being said, what results from this is a somewhat watered down political action thriller. Its going to be enjoyable for all but the most ardent political (or patriotic American) viewers. Those who enjoy Greengrass’ unique style won’t be disappointed and neither will those looking for an interesting action/thriller that reflects some important and thought-provoking issues.