« Entering the Twilight Zone | Main | Hey Jude, Don’t Make It Worse »

Unlocking the Hurt

MOVIE REVIEW
Green Zone (2010)

2372_D040_00005
Jasin Boland/Universal Studios

In one sequence in “Green Zone,” Paul Greengrass’s latest shaky-cam thriller, U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) and his men carry out a dangerous mission inside the urban hot zone of Baghdad circa March 2003. After storming through the familiar crowded, dusty city streets lined with geometrically designed buildings of clay and stone, interrupting a meeting of former Baath Party big shots and coming away with a notebook of valuable information, their convoy enters a very different world.

It’s the Green Zone, the home of the Coalition Provisional Authority which oversaw the country in the heady early days of the occupation. Minutes after completing their mission, Miller finds himself in a meeting with a C.I.A. bigwig (Brendan Gleeson) by a luxury swimming pool outside Saddam’s former Republican Palace, with bikini-clad women, shirtless men sipping drinks and a general atmosphere more Las Vegas than ongoing war. Swarmed with diplomats that dodge piles of rubble as they ascend ornamental marble staircases and hold strategy conferences in lavish Byzantine rooms, it’s a surreal, provocative setting that perfectly symbolizes the hubris in the face of confusion that’s defined what “The Daily Show” deemed “Mess O'Potamia.”

The screenplay, written by prolific veteran Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) is an adaptation of Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s non-fiction “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” the former Washington Post Baghdad bureau chief’s accounting f the chaos of the L. Paul Bremer III-led C.P.A. Unsurprisingly, the picture works best when it sticks to the intricate details of that world — particularly the internal sniping between the different bureaucratic representatives occupying the same gargantuan palace — and the contrast between the symbols of wealth and ruin abounding therein.

Yet, this is a Greengrass picture, his third teaming with Mr. Damon after the two “Bourne” sequels, so that complex milieu is distilled into a fictionalized, straightforward rogue soldier template. Chief Miller goes “off the reservation” as he uncovers a weapons-of-mass-destruction conspiracy and the movie becomes a revisionist depiction of his efforts to undermine the governmental authorities perpetuating it. This means lots of yelling, illicit covert operations and an impassioned confrontation or two with No. 1 baddie diplomat Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear).

The filmmaker takes years of false intelligence and labyrinthine competing interests and turns them into a refighting-the-W.M.D.-battle narrative not all that different than the redoing of Vietnam with the Americans winning conceit that dominated in the “Rambo” sequels and other staples of ’80s action. The true story of the United States in Iraq becomes the fabricated tale of one man defying his orders to take on the machine, a fantasy that has little to do with the way things actually happened and even less to do with the way a soldier on active duty could ever behave. Mr. Greengrass bungles an extraordinary opportunity, a chance to meld form and content to create an apt picture of the post-invasion chaos, and instead redoes the “Bourne” movies, “Bloody Sunday” and “United 93.” It’s time to move on.

GREEN ZONE

Opened on March 12 in the United States and Britain.

Directed by Paul Greengrass; written by Brian Helgeland, inspired by the book “Imperial Life in the Emerald City” by Rajiv Chandrasekaran; director of photography, Barry Ackroyd; edited by Christopher Rouse; music by John Powell; production designer, Dominic Watkins; costumes by Sammy Sheldon; visual effects by Peter Chang; produced by Mr. Greengrass, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Lloyd Levin; released by Universal Pictures. Running time: 1 hour 55 minutes. This film is rated R by M.P.A.A. and 15 by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Matt Damon (Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller), Greg Kinnear (Clark Poundstone), Brendan Gleeson (Martin Brown), Amy Ryan (Lawrie Dayne), Khalid Abdalla (Freddy), Igal Naor (Al Rawi) and Jason Isaacs (Lieutenant Briggs).

Comments

I can't believe how you changed this from a political propaganda movie to a "American cowboy revisionist history" movie. Don't you understand fiction? A movie with an obvious agenda turns into a movie with completely opposite intentions. Terrible review. And actually, if you actually do a little reading you might understand a little bit more about the whole WMD situation. Ah, political tools with agendas!

But the reviewer is right that this movie's plot is revisionist. If Saddam was really "set up", then countries who were opposed to the invasion were in on it.
It's staggering how many people are weak-minded enough to believe this kind of tripe:

So some evil "neo-con" evil-doers were able to manipulate the Whitehouse, the CIA, most of Congress including John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Ted Kenedy, the inteligence agencies of the UK, France, Russia, China, Italy, etc., the entire UN security council (see resolution 1441) into believing that Saddam wasn't disarmed.

The comments to this entry are closed.

© 2008-2019 Critic's Notebook and its respective authors. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
Subscribe to Critic's Notebook | Follow Us on Twitter | Contact Us | Write for Us | Reprints and Permissions