Review: Green Zone

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The journey through cinema continues with GREEN ZONE – the 10th time I have found myself in the cinema in, what, 11 weeks? Gotta pick up the pace…

Green Zone

People chose a version of events to fit their pro/anti war agenda – director Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) manages to play off on anti war rhetoric with a film so close to what is now accepted as ‘’the truth’’ that its never clear where fiction begins and ends. Matt Damon (The Departed) plays Captain Miller leading a squad to secure ‘WMD’s’ in the weeks following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. A frustrated Miller returns empty handed despite assurances the Intel is good. Being the ‘good soldier’ he plans to get to the bottom of this and his investigation uncovers evidence the Bush administration has falsified the case for war – yadda yadda yadda.

Honestly, a story about the search for WMD’s and why they can’t be found is all a bit dull. They weren’t found because they weren’t there – Green Zone attempts to flesh out the conspiracy theories – but its message is about 7 years to late. We’ve had close to a decade of recrimination and the ‘’accusation’’ the government is up to no good can only be greeted with a ‘well duh, you just opened a newspaper?’. Conspiracy theories need to play off on paranoia – increasingly the US/UK’s dubious rationale for war seems more like fact

Thankfully, the film cares little for the path to war – oh the hand wringing is there for sure but in the ‘we need a pained shot for the trailer’ style. Green Zone has a message but I never bought any sincerity. The winning horse has been picked and all concerned are happy for that to carry the story along. Storywise – Green Zone is in the dead zone. Clueless officials, brave soldiers, Iraqi’s yearning to be free –check.

Review sounds fairly negative so allow me to rebalance. I didn’t watch Green Zone for the ‘’story’’ (evidently just as well), I came for the cinematography.

Green Zone looks gorgeous – it FEELS like Iraq in 2003. US Chinook’s dart across the sky, angry crowds threaten violence at any time – an abandoned tanker has you crying out ‘look out for bombers!’, it feels very authentic. This wasn’t accidental and that care and attention is clear to see. Action scenes are plausible and generally very well done – bullets fly and concrete is vaporised. Second half of the film is set at night and the impressive squad action is replaced by more Bourne-style fisticuffs. I can’t help but feel this film needed a big set piece – choppers flying in, tanks crushing walls – the tech is all around, and, as Bart Simpson once said, ‘I want to be around when all those guns start going off’. I did too.

Greengrass is a proponent of the shaky cam – and it’s used to great effect. Firefights feel like you are a camera crew along for the ride, the chaotic search and clear missions bring home the difficulty of the conflict. The style is helped by the score which never overshadows a scene – allowing the events to be the emotional driving force, don’t expect some tub thumping Wagner to be piped in.

No one is really called upon for an acting master class in Green Zone. Matt Damon character doesn’t seem to have much in the way of character – but he’s a likeable enough lead and that seems to fill the gaps. Additionally the US military is portrayed as a skilled and effective force so we never struggle for someone to root for.

Ultimately, Green Zone really didn’t need a superficial story drapped over it. The Iraq War is dynamic enough that following our brave squad would probably have been enough – it’s sad the need to ‘resolve’ the WMD issue was so paramount in the writer’s minds. Did this story really need that sort of conclusive resolution? Give us more of the impressive sets, the intimidating crowds and the pressurised search and clear ops.

Solid, if unspectacular, Green Zone will leave to another film the task of truly capturing the excitement and the horror of the most controversial conflict in decades. 6/10

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2 Responses to “Review: Green Zone”

  1. Danjo Kazooe Says:

    Good review – and from what you have written, the Green Zone was exactly the movie I expected it to be. A well made, but throw-away political thriller with some Bourne/Damon pandering thrown in to entice an already established audience.

    Not being a massive fan of the Bourne movies (or Matt Damon) – I am in no-rush to run out and see this one. Thanks for the confirmation/warning good sir!

  2. CMrok93 Says:

    Green Zone begins with Shock and Awe, and Paul Greengrass tries to maintain that tone for the rest of the movie. But the problem is just that this film can’t keep up its pace the whole time. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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