is a polemic. It's also not particularly good storytelling.
Both annoy me, but the latter more than the former. Hell, I
like a well-done polemic. That's why I still talk to my family.
I don't even care if the narrator is bat-shit looney-tunes as
long as the polemic is passionate and makes some sense to someone.
I suspect a lot of people will have a kneejerk reaction to Green
Zone because it illustrates the wrongness of American actions
in Iraq. Some will shout, "Fuck yeah!" and some will holler
that it's leftist pablum. Screw that. They should be more pissed
that it's not entertaining. After all, that's what they paid
The core issue in
Green Zone has been hammered into the ground before,
very well by Seymour Hersh, and known by most with access to
a computer or newspaper. That is, there were no WMDs in Iraq
and there was no credible evidence to justify them as our reason
for going to war. That's not a political statement; it's a fact.
People arguing about the missing WMD nowadays are going round
and round about how just or unjust we were in our wrongness,
and more along party lines than logical ones.
however, fictionalizes the details around our bad intelligence,
dumbing the real story down with Hollywood plotting and crap
characters. Adding nothing to our understanding of the Iraq
war would make it a shitty book. Failing fails with such boilerplate
characters and action makes it a shitty movie.
The Green Zone of
the movie's title is the well-protected heart of American presence
in Baghdad, where the fat cat bureaucrats and politicians have
cocktail receptions and sparkling swimming pools. The title
is meant to imply the disconnect between the horrors of the
war and the buffer surrounding the people running it. It would
be an interesting allegory in a better movie. Here, though,
it's an afterthought.
Matt Damon plays
a marine commander traveling Baghdad in search of suspected
WMD sites. He keeps coming up empty and wants to know why. Greg
Kinnear plays an arrogant Washington bureaucrat who resolutely
promotes the war and the intelligence being used. He's such
a patently slimy villain that you have to figure all the bad
shit leads back to him. Brendan Gleeson is a CIA operative who
doesn't believe there are weapons and figures Kinnear is a dishonest
asshole. Damon, a reporter and Gleeson all want to know what
Kinnear knows: the source of the intelligence.
On assignment, Damon
meets an Iraqi citizen who reports that he has seen Saddam's
former men meeting nearby. Damon goes off mission to investigate
and finds one of the former leader's top men holed up in a house.
There is a chase, but Saddam's man gets away. However, Damon
retrieves a book that contains all of the villain's safe houses.
He tucks this away, but when word gets out Kinnear wants the
book, all hell breaks loose and the Americans are busier fighting
themselves than the Iraqi insurgents.
Along the way, Green
Zone director Paul Green grass adds not-so-subtle political
commentary, including a shot of George Bush making his "Mission
Accomplished" speech. Yes, we know the dork made a regrettable
speech, but pointing out the stupidity ran its course after
every TV satirist poked fun and Fox News worked overtime to
defend it. This ground has been tread so heavily that Greengrass
isn't enlightening us; he's just picking at scabs.
other obvious political message is that we overestimated how
simple the Iraqi people were and how easy it would be to create
democracy from whole cloth. This point is raised over and over
again in the movie. As true as it is, we've already heard this
many times. Raising it here is bitterness, not revelation, and
certainly not entertainment.
wraps its two tired-ass complaints in a flak jacket. There are
exploding helicopters, midnight shootouts and adrenaline-fueled
soldiers raisin' in the dirt. Two-thirds of the way in, Damon
learns why the slimy Kinnear is so eager to catch the Iraqi
henchman. The plot purports to be a thriller, and it has shitloads
of dizzying, handheld-camera action scenes. The ones at night
are nearly impossible to follow.
Baghdad is an enormous
city and, much like Vienna after WWII, broken into regions that
you can easily got lost within. Still, Damon manages to be exactly
where he needs to be at all times. He appears to have no commander
and can go wherever he wants and harass whomever he wants. And
he's the good guy. The Iraqi henchman he chases is shockingly
easy to find. The evidence and clues that have been elusive
to the CIA fall into his lap.
No character seems
to have a personality and only gets to talk when spouting what
the moviemakers must have through were BIG, PROFOUND statements.
Damon's character is only interesting in his virtue. Without
that he has no personality. He says only slightly more than
an ice cream cone, and most of it in gruff little bursts of
macho marine talk. Kinnear's bureaucrat is as one-dimensional
as the bad guys in Avatar. A reporter played by Amy Ryan
is working to discover the source of bad intelligence, after
being responsible for leaking it. You'd think a woman reporter
in Iraq would be tough as nails, but she crumbles faster than
expired Donettes at the Hostess Thrift Store. Gleeson, who plays
the CIA operative, goes through the movie holding back his thick
Irish accent like it was explosive diarrhea and he was fifty
feet from the bathroom.
There's a lot going
on in Green Zone, but I didn't give a cock's waddle about
any of it. It just blasted across the screen like a lot of bitchy
noise and flashes. The result of the stale political commentary,
lame characters and simplified detective work are too little
original thought behind the action. The commentary put too much
emphasis on the message to be mindless. Good political movies
trick you into getting the message. This one isn't good. Two
to tell Filthy Something?