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The fourth “Bourne” film is out – sorry that’s a lie you might have been visually fed if you saw the trailer for “Green Zone”, starring Matt Damon. Don’t be fooled by the clever marketing, this isn’t the story of a lone soldier in a world out to get him, but that of a soldier who’s alone in the midst of his military unit during the Iraq War. The unit is on a fleeting mission to find weapons of mass destruction. Too soon or too late? Difficult to say.
It’s 2003 in Baghdad and the chaos on the streets is topped only by the disorganization of the U.S. military. I remember when I saw this film in 2007…wait, that was the documentary “No End in Sight”, in which Capitol Hill insiders voiced their dissatisfaction with the Bush administration’s decisions in Iraq. “Green Zone” seems to be a carbon copy of the earlier film. Just imagine all the newspaper articles you read about Iraq packaged into an action movie with “Jason Bourne” punching and shooting his way to the truth, but with less ninja moves. Frustrated with his superiors’ lack of concern over shady intelligence, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) decides to go off post with the help of CIA Baghdad bureau chief Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) in search of secrets his government won’t share. He journeys through war-torn Iraq, searching for Pentagon Special Intelligence Clark Poundstone’s (Greg Kinnear) secret source “Magellan,” who’s been providing the military with fake locations of WMDs. The loyal soldier just might find himself torn between truth and country.
This one is far from director Paul Greengrass’ best, with such amazing prior films like “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum”, but that doesn’t mean “Green Zone” isn’t at least entertaining. His cinematography provides some of the best hand-held style shooting in the business (you get used to it but don’t sit in the front row), providing a grainy feel that throws you into the action like a viral video. Unfortunately, the time spent on technique should’ve been given to the storyline as well. It wants to stand alone for the sake of its politics, but it needs revising for the characters’ sake.
Sure, this is the Iraq War condensed into an action film, using Hollywood conventions to portray a very real, very recent benchmark in American history. Is it a sensationalized story with over-simplified politics? Absolutely. But that doesn’t make “Green Zone” any less fascinating. While turning Kinnear’s character into a you’re-with-us-or-against-us-American-way politician, the film doesn’t settle for an anti-American message that blames everyone, but focuses on the breakdown in government leadership that opposing positions tried to resist. So Greengrass shows great concern over those who died in the 9/11 attack, while also disparaging the U.S. response.
With all its imperfections, “Green Zone” remains an honest and entertaining film that, while ultimately forgettable, merges thought with explosions—always a welcome combination. At its best, the film reminds us that the events in 2003 shouldn’t be forgotten.
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