Saturday, March 13, 2010

Green Zone

Directed by Paul Greengrass. Released 2010. Inspired by Imperial Life in the Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Rated R.

Takes place in Iraq 2003. America has invaded, Sadaam has fled, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction have yet to be found. Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) is tired of risking the lives himself and his soldiers on possible WMD locations without any payoff. The source for the reported WMD locations is a mysterious third party known as Magellan, but who can account for him?

The dramatic questions are "Who is Magellan," "Where are the WMD's," and "Why is this movie being released so late?" Honestly, hardly anyone is seriously asking whether or not WMDs were there anymore, for whatever reason. These questions were vocally asked a number of times throughout the movie, and it really was unnecessary. This movie didn't only feel untimely, but it felt like an antique. "Don't be naive" was another well worn cliche this movie threw around thanks to the stereotypical reporter character who would do anything just to get a story.

Granted, when Chandrasekaran wrote his book this topic was much more intriguing, being 2006. However, his book was not about international intrigue and government secrets, but was a nonfictional account of life in the Green Zone of Iraq and tried to deal with the facts as unbiasedly as can be reported. The movie is entirely fictitious and has only one character who is even interested in just trying to live life in Baghdad, though several characters were based on real people.

Green Zone is a tired story and plot that was slapped on a recent conspiracy theory and toted as a thriller. Not only was the plot tired and boring, but the action didn't deliver either. While there were tense fight scenes they were overshadowed by the hand-held cameras and very low lighting choices. In fact, I spent a good portion of the movie squinting and hoping I didn't miss what happened. Politely, the movie makers usually had clarifying shots to help ensure that the audience saw what they needed to. Similarly, the complicated character twists were clarified by plainly restating every discovery that was made, thus ensuring that the film left no room for speculation or audience participation. Or audience interest.

Green Zone's best qualities were the talents found in Matt Damon and Khalid Abdalla. Khalid Abdalla played an everyday, local Iraqi man mostly referred to a Freddy. Though not nearly as established an actor as Damon, Abdalla easily surpassed the rest of the cast as the only sympathetic character in the show. While Damon's conscientious role as Miller carried the moving parts of the movie, Abdalla's helpless but justified role was the moral message the movie tried to portray. Sadly, it is mostly run over by the bigger political players in the plot.

In the end, the movie delivered very little that would inspire anyone who wasn't already aware that everyday Iraqis are not terrorists and that America isn't telling everything it knows. The cinematography was interesting, but also very obvious, and the story gave us so little to be excited by and so much to be insulted by. I'm looking at that journalist character again.

Rated R, as I see it, for some language and unexplicit, but severe violence.


  1. Not surprisingly I think you are bang on here. I agree that the performances of Damon and Khalid Abdalla were the strongest parts of this movie.

    You have excellent insight and I look forward to reading more. If you'd like I'll post a link to your blog on my twitter page.

    I'm going to follow your blog. Keep up the good work!

  2. We just got ClearPlay again, and I believe I'll watch this movie. Fortunately, I'm so into what's unfolding on the world stage that the movie is bound to still feel current to me. We've enjoyed a moment of Yang, but I'm expecting a pushback from Yin again within a couple of years.