Green Zone – Review


When Bourne isn‘t available you call in Roy Miller…

Matt Damon went from a guy with an ageless face, who looked like he couldn’t hurt a fly, to a bad-ass, super-assassin back in 2002 in The Bourne Identity. Two more Bourne films and a bunch of other huge projects later, Damon returns to the high-octane genre and continues to show why he’s one of the best all around actors working today.

Green Zone takes place back in 2003 and tells the story of Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon), who’s lead on a team of men searching for WMD in Iraq during the height of the war. After coming up empty on a number of search-and-retrieve WMD runs, Miller begins to question whether or not the Intel that the military is coming up with is any good, and where it’s originating from. After bringing these questions to light during a briefing, Miller is basically told to keep quiet, and follow orders.

Miller’s questions do catch the eye of CIA agent Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), who takes Miller off to the side after the meeting and tells him that everything is not as it seems in regards to the war. This includes the agency’s butting heads with over government entities over the proper way to salvage Iraq. In a relentless search for the truth, Miller finds himself mixed up in a conspiracy that he hopes will lead him on a path toward the answers to the questions many wish he never brought to light.

Green Zone reunites Damon with The Bourne Supremecy/Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass, and these two just know how to make action come alive on the big screen. The action is tight, and the shaky-cam is back. The shaky-cam was almost a trademark of Greengrass’s Bourne films, and while some didn’t enjoy it, it seemed to bring the action up to the speed those films were trying to keep pace with. In Green Zone, while you could tell it was Greengrass behind the camera, the shaky-cam never detracted from the quality, and if anything, was toned down a bit, or at least, blended in so seamlessly that it never brought you out of the film.

Damon’s work as Miller was once again top notch, as his work here only makes us hope that a fourth Bourne film sees the light of day sooner than later. Damon comes off as a much more human character in this film, as it aims toward the more realistic side of action, over the super soldier approach. There are times when we’re waiting for – even longing for – Miller to just take down an entire battalion of soldiers himself, only to see him take the safe road because in real life, that’s how it’s done.

While the action is continuous, and does a good job of keeping the viewer on edge, it’s the story that keeps the viewer fully engaged, and waiting to see how everything will come to be in the end. It’s safe to say this is a military thriller of sorts, as the inner-workings of the government and its ideals on right and wrong help paint a clear line on who the viewer sees as the antagonist of the film, and just how many times what we see on the news, or read in the papers is exactly what we’re suppose to hear, truth or not.

The film does take sides, to a degree, about the war in Iraq, though it doesn’t bash us over the head with them. Instead, it shows what we all know seven years into the future, and this only makes us cheer Damon on all the more. There’s a particular scene where the “Mission Accomplished” speech from President George W. Bush is playing while higher-ranking government officials and soldiers are at a dinner party. They all cheer when Bush speaks about the war being a success, and one can’t help but shake his head, not only because of what we know now, but because of all that is happening in the movie at this point.

While it will no doubt face a small critical backlash for being the first major war film released since The Hurt Locker, the two should be looked at from different perspectives. Yes, Green Zone goes the realistic route, but at the same time, it knows it’s an action/thriller, and doesn’t try to pretend to be the deep, dramatic film that The Hurt Locker was. That doesn’t detract from the quality of the film though, as Green Zone is a great thrill-ride, with a truly engaging story that will keep you locked and loaded throughout.

Director: Paul Greengrass
Notable Cast: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Khalid Abdalla, Igal Naor
Writer(s): Brian Helgeland

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