Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Release: Green Zone

The new movie by Paul Greengrass and Brian Helgelund (who made one of my favorite movies A Knight's Tale) stars Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleason, and Amy Ryan. It's a puzzling movie because it takes place in our recent lifetime, 2003, and talks about events that most people will remember, but few people actually fully understood (including those involved, according to the movie). So it's hard to tell if they're telling a completely true story, a "based on a true" story, or a fictionalized version of actual events. I'm guessing it's somewhere in the middle. The exact details have been changed, but the spirit of the film seems to depict actual events. Damon is a soldier in charge of a unit looking for WMDs in the first few weeks after the invasion of Iraq. He's getting more and more frustrated and suspicious because no weapons are found, and because his higher ups don't want to address the failure in intelligence that keeps bringing them up emptyhanded. He starts partnering with Brendan Gleason, the CIA chief in Iraq, who is diametrically opposed to the Bush administration's policies being implemented by Greg Kinnear. There's intrigue about who might have falsified the WMD information, and in particular why they did. Damon interacts with a local Iraqi who wants to help the American soldiers liberate the country, but really doesn't want the cruelties to continue against the local people. We see the torture that was condoned, the disrespect for the country that was invaded, and the frustration it caused all around. I can understand why some people will call this a liberal bias of events, but if you remember it's a movie, and stars an action star and is not a documentary, it's easy to enjoy the film, though hard to forget it's pretty close to how I remember actual events going down. Kinnear is a good Bush flunky and Gleason plays the semi-paranoid CIA guy well, but Damon does the best job as a leader of men, trying to get to the truth - the epitome of an action hero. The great thing about him (something Nicholas Cage always fails to bring) is his inherent intelligence shining through. You believe that he's smart enough to have put together the disparate items he discovers. Good movie, the subject just isn't the easiest thing to watch. 3.5 of 5 stars

To compare this to the most recent exceptional war movie, The Hurt Locker, this movie can barely compare. Yes, they're both fighting in a desert and they both have seemingly honest, neutral main characters who just want to do their job well. The Hurt Locker is told without any of the politics or drama of WHY they're fighting. We only know they're fighting in a desert, it could be any war anywhere. They have to deal with the current type of war fare, but that's all that would date the movie to this time. Green Zone is all about the politics of war, and doesn't make as good a movie. However, it's possible to tell the best story without politics. To quote Green Zone "Don't be naive". All the President's Men told the story of politics and did it brilliantly (though not war), and Lions for Lambs tried to do both but from a desk in Washington, but also failed to make a top-notch film.

1 comment:

Dan O. said...

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!