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  Green Zone

Starring: Matt Damon, Amy Ryan, Brendon Gleeson, Greg Kinnear, Yigal Naor

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lloyd Levin

Written by: Brian Helgeland

Distributor: Universal Pictures

     If Green Zone taught me one thing—and even that’s being generous—it’s that I was wrong to ever assume liberal Hollywood would quit making anti-Bush movies. Had the institution been any less vociferous and undying in its hatred of the previous administration’s perceived wrongs, I might have even considered the possibility that this dud was shelved for five years and then haphazardly dumped into theaters, only to seem inappropriately dated. But these people just won’t let go of their favorite whipping boy, even with a new, progressive President whom they love telling them to look towards the future. It’s pathetic.

     And it’s not like Green Zone is about the current situation in Iraq, either. That I could have understood. The war, which will soon celebrate its seventh anniversary, is still very much relevant and alive in the political discussion today. But director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon (reuniting after the very popular Bourne Identity films) have made a movie about the failed search for WMDs. Is this not a fact of the war that everyone—liberal and conservative—recognizes? Nobody still believes Sadaam was stockpiling through 2003. So, even sans political statements, there is no possible way Green Zone could have been relevant in the least.

     But I knew all that going into the film, even if most viewers won’t, given the marketing has intentionally made this look like a gun-ho, dare I say conservative Bourne film set in Iraq. However, what surprised me and what will shock those who have been duped by the previews is that Green Zone not only dwells on the Bush Administration’s failures, but spends most of its time entertaining the conspiracy theory that all the WMD intelligence was deliberately fabricated by senior White House officials. Ah, yes, as Damon’s Officer Roy Miller and his men run around on a deadly wild goose chase for the weapons, Greg Kinnear’s Clark Poundstone (the movie’s symbol for Bush and company) busily covers up boundless deceit. Green Zone has all the insight of a “Bush Lied, People Died” bumper sticker.

     No, Bush is never directly mentioned and the film doesn’t make any claims about being factual, but any educated viewer clearly knows what Greengrass and screenwriter Brian Helgeland are getting at. And those viewers lacking a proper education? Well, let’s just say my blood began to boil a little when my audience let out several audible “ooohs” and “aaahs” with each fictional revelation about the real source of the infamous “bad intelligence.” Granted, these were probably elicited by hardcore liberals who have been in lock-step with the movie’s messages since Bush first took office. But the thought that they could have been coming from unknowing moviegoers buying Green Zone’s propaganda is terrifying.

     For those who have become anesthetized to Hollywood’s politicking and just want to see a good action flick, Green Zone isn’t for you, either. Greengrass’ trademark shaky camera doesn’t work here at all, distorting the action beyond reason and inducing motion-sickness at times. I was a big proponent of the technique in both of his Bourne films as it helped demonstrate the frantic, adrenaline-filled nature of the action. And it served his masterpiece, United 93, very well in providing a first-person sense of intimacy. But in Green Zone, it just seems like the cameraman has Parkinson’s. Yeah, we get it, being on the ground in Iraq is a flurry and it’d be impossible for an everyday moviegoer to keep a steady view of everything if they were transplanted into the action. But the film underestimates said moviegoer’s intelligence in assuming it needs to literally demonstrate this every step of the way. Such overindulgence is clearly Greengrass’ fault, because cinematographer Barry Ackyoyd has showed us how well he can lens similar material, winning an Oscar for his work on The Hurt Locker.

     Green Zone occasionally hits on a good idea, but this is inevitably swallowed up by further statement-making. For instance, its take on how the media fell hook, line, and sinker for the Iraq War at first, failing to ask the tough questions, starts out solid. Officer Miller meets Wall Street Journal writer Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan) who literally reports on the War through the information she’s handed, not investigating it any further. (Yeah, the character had to be from the conservative paper, but I momentarily cut the movie some slack because Dayne seemed an appropriate metaphor for the press as a whole.) But, soon enough, this thread soon becomes an empty vehicle for the idea that all the WMD intelligence was deliberately fabricated.

     What’s the ultimate virtue Green Zone seeks to extol? It seems to be that we Americans should have listened to the Iraqis, even going so far as to paint Sadaam’s fictional second-in-command, Al Rawi (Igal Naor), as a source of wisdom. That’s hardly the Bourne flick most audiences will be paying to see, but then again, it’s hard to fault Universal for doing their darndest to recoup some box-office from what was clearly an expensive turkey. Neither profound nor riveting, Green Zone may represent an even greater blunder for liberal Hollywood than the Iraq War was for the Bush Administration.


-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 3.13.2010


Green Zone is rated R and runs 115 minutes.

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