August 13, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Green Zone

Title: Green Zone
Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinear, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Paul Greengrass
Writer: Brian Helgeland
Released: Universal Pictures (2010)
Genre: War; Action

When this movie first hit theaters, I read reviews for it that basically dismissed it as "Jason Bourne goes to war." Well, to a mild extent the critics are right in that Matt Damon's character in Green Zone, Miller, is just a one-man ass-kicking machine through much of the film. However, the subject matter of this movie over the Bourne series takes Damon's character into darker territory, which isn't something you might expect considering how gritty some of those moments in the Bourne series got.

The movie starts off with Miller and his team hopscotching around Iraq looking for WMDs in the earliest years of the second Iraq War. Sticking true to reality, the teams are finding jack all and Miller is really starting to question the quality of the intelligence they're receiving. But when he starts asking questions, he gets verbally smacked down at every turn. Frustrated with not getting any answers and continually sending his men on missions he knows will be fruitless, Miller ends up working with an embedded journalist as well as a CIA operative who are each looking for their own answers about why no one is finding WMDs.

The whole political thriller aspect of this movie is pretty fun to watch, and with a cast that includes Greg Kinear and Tom Wilkonson, the tense dialogue is easy to get swept up in. As for the action, I have no idea how plausible any of it is. I'm not a combat afficianado, so the tactics used in some of the action scenes may very well be inauthentic. They are very engaging though, and considering a fair number of the lesser roles are played by actual American soldiers, my suspension of disbelief comes easy.

Watching the movie, I couldn't help comparing it at times to The Hurt Locker. It's unavoidable if you've seen Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-winning film. And while Green Zone is a good movie, when held up against other high quality war films of the past couple decades, it starts to pale. And the whole "WMD fraud" through line of the film came off as pretentious and preachy, like a Hollywood liberal getting paid a bunch of money to wag his finger at the Bush Administration for an unnecessary war. It was especially nauseating when Miller is spouting disillusioned dialogue like it's his first day at war. I doubt soldiers are that naive when they are made aware of the politics behind their mission.

Dick Cheney and Paul Bremmer, who Greg Kinear seems to embody through his performance, likely hate this film. Michael Moore and Ariana Huffington probably love it. Me, I kind of liked it, but I'll be more likely to watch The Hurt Locker again before I bother with this for a second time.

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