film review - Green Zone

by Leonard Maltin
March 12, 2010 5:00 AM
3 Comments
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Director Paul Greengrass has an amazing gift for simulating documentary-style reality, as he’s proven in such notable films as Bloody Sunday and United 93. He’s also brought his shaky-cam and rapid-fire editing style to the Bourne series, with great success, although not every viewer appreciates his motion-sickness approach to visual storytelling. Now he has tackled an Iraqi war story set in 2003, at the very outset of America’s involvement. Matt Damon stars as a dedicated Army officer searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction and coming up empty-handed.

The crux of Brian Helgeland’s screenplay (inspired by material in Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book Imperial Life in the Emerald City) is a series of supposedly shocking revelations. There’s just one problem: the movie’s outcome is made plain in the opening scenes.

Without the element of surprise, what’s left are the particulars, and they are not to be dismissed. Green Zone pulses with excitement at every turn, and as you would expect from this director, you feel as if you’re there in war-torn Baghdad alongside Damon and his costars, Greg Kinnear, as a smarmy Pentagon official, Brendan Gleeson, as a bullheaded CIA operative and Amy Ryan, as a Wall Street Journal reporter. The action scenes are potent and the tension is high in each set-piece.

Your political persuasion, and feelings about the U.S. invasion of Iraq, will likely determine your willingness to accept the movie’s central premise—which I won’t summarize here—but politics aside, I came away disappointed. A movie made by so many smart people shouldn’t show its hand at the very start and still expect me to respond to its so-called surprises later on.

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3 Comments

  • Channing | March 26, 2010 12:47 PMReply

    Leonard's review is right on the money! In fact, with politics included, I felt that the movie could have been directed by Michael Moore. I echo the disappointment, although the acting was superb, the story was awful.

  • Dana C | March 18, 2010 10:05 AMReply

    I dont' care what you say. Maybe the movie's not that great but Matt Damon stil Rocks!!

  • BrettC | March 16, 2010 8:43 AMReply

    I don't know that "Green Zone" told me anything I didn't already know. I'm from the portion of the political spectrum that agrees with this film's point of view, but I saw no new insight.

    That said, I do think this was a reasonably good political thriller.

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