Capone says the mix of brains and braun makes GREEN ZONE a must see!!!
Published at: March 12, 2010, 3:02 p.m. CST by Capone
Hey, everyone. Capone in Chicago here.
I feel pretty confident in saying that there is no better director of realistic, complex action sequences working today than Paul Greenglass (UNITED 93, BLOODY SUNDAY, and the most recent two BOURNE movies). He also has an uncanny ability of building unbearable levels of suspense and making sure an intelligent audience always knows exactly what is happening and what the specific geography of every sequence is. This may sound bizarre, but one of my biggest complaints about the current crap of action directors is that they simply toss the camera around, set off a shitload of explosions, and rattle off gunfire with very little care if the audience can keep track of where all of the players are and who they are attempting to capture or kill. But with GREEN ZONE, Greengrass' dense and perfect military thriller set in the early weeks of the current war in Iraq, we are always perfectly clear who's after who and why. He almost makes it look easy.
GREEN ZONE is not "Jason Bourne goes to Iraq," despite what some lazy-ass critics might lead you to believe. It's actually something much more dangerous--a studio film with big stars mixing truth with a bit of fiction to expose one version of the Big Lie that got us into Iraq in the first place: that Saddam Hussein had hidden caches of weapons of mass destruction hidden all over the country. The fact that an audience of today already knows no WMDs were found doesn't take away from the drama of watching soldiers (in the form of Roy Miller, played with authority and confidence by Matt Damon), intelligence gatherers (led by Brendan Gleeson's CIA agent Martin Brown, and journalists (Wall Street Journal reporter Lawrie Dayne, portrayed by Amy Ryan with a perfect mixture of truth seeking vigor and sheer guilt at falling for the original lie) slowly uncover the truth for themselves.
Miller heads a team of men who are tapped to raid various abandoned buildings and other secret locations where WMDs are supposedly hidden. Each time they come up empty handed, despite being told the intel that put them there was solid and coming from a classified, high-ranking source in the Iraqi military. When Miller confronts his superior officers with the idea that maybe the intel is faulty, he's dressed down with some degree of swiftness. When he and his men get a lead from an Iraqi citizen named Freddy (Khalid Abdalla) about a gathering of some of the top men in Saddam's army, he moves in quickly confirms the presence of a high ranking general (Yigal Naor), who then escapes. Those who Miller and his team do capture are quickly snatched from their grasp by another military team (led by Jason Isaacs) and working directly for the administration, in the guise of Greg Kinnear as the devious politician who is more interested in making America look justified in being in Iraq than in getting to the truth. With the help of Martin Brown, Miller sets out to find the missing general and get the truth out of him about where the WMDs are, assuming there are any.
GREEN ZONE never lets up in its nearly two-hour running time. For those of you who aren't fans of the shaky cam, be warned--things get a little shaky, but not to the point where the style and camera movement courtesy of cinematographer Barry Ackroyd take you out of the action. Greengrass is absolutely relentless at either throwing details and information at you or at putting his capable Chief Warrant Officer Miller through the paces. The films ends with a 20-minute foot chase that left me winded just watching, primarily because not everyone doing the running is in great shape. Just as compelling as the action is the drama. Miller confronting the journalist about running her original story about "confirmed" WMDs without checking the facts is a stinging indictment against all journalists that bought these lies. Screenwriter Brian Helgeland (basing his adaptation on a book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran) points fingers and names the names of those who let us down. Miller is given such lines as "It always matters why we go to war," when Kinnear tries to convince him the 'Why' doesn't matter anymore since American was already fully engaged in this conflict. Knowing Damon's politics, he's probably screaming right at George W. Bush when he deliver those words.
Greengrass and Damon should always work together, because they make the best non-superhero action movies in town. I guess this film has been on release schedule for a few extra months, and I think I know why. The distributor might have been waiting for THE HURT LOCKER to win that Best Picture Oscar. At least that way, GREEN ZONE might have a fighting chance at being the one film set during the Iraq War that actually gets people to come see it in the theater in droves. They will not be disappointed. This is a one of those rare birds that refuses to skimp on either the action or the plot. It's a smart film, made by talented filmmakers that also happens to kick all manner of ass. Who knows, this film might actually make you feel a little bit better about being lied to by your government. If not, it may get your angry and charged enough to do something about it.
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