“Green Zone” is loud, noisy and confusing which is what war is like. There is lots of yelling, running around, shooting, blood, exploding bombs and roaring helicopters. While I appreciated the film’s attention to combat realism this does not change the fact that part of my hearing was left in the Universal Screening Room after the “Green Zone” preview I attended. Yes, I know war is loud and the movie needs to reflect that. War also involves bullets, yet no filmmaker would spray their audience with live ammunition (Although in my case a few have threatened to!)
“Green Zone” takes place in Iraq in March of 2003. Matt Damon is Roy Miller a soldier determined to find WMDs so we know that his mission is doomed. Along the way he runs into politics and bureaucracy. He encounters bad intelligence concerning the location of WMDs as well as infighting among different government agencies. “Aren’t we all on the same side?” he declares at one point.
I know that what “Green Zone has to say about the situation in Iraq is accurate because three years ago I saw the excellent documentary “No End in Sight.” “No End in Sight” laid out in shocking detail just how disorganized and unprepared the US was for the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq. In many ways “No End in Sight” was more compelling and horrifying than “Green Zone” due to accounts given by the actual government officials who were put in charge of Iraq. What they had to say was mind boggling. The documentary was also mercifully quieter.
In terms of casting, Damon is fine as the determined soldier who takes matters into his own hands. Greg Kinnear is very good, as always, as Clark Poundstone, an inexperienced US government official who decides to disband the Iraqi army, an act that leads to more chaos (the real life disbandment and its implications are covered in greater scope in “No End in Sight.”)
The other obvious movie with which to compare “Green Zone” is “The Hurt Locker.” “The Hurt Locker” is the more convincing and compelling story. “The Hurt Locker” eschews the political angle of “Green Zone” focusing more on the day to day tension and paranoia of the Iraq War experience. My recommendation, see “No End in Sight” and then “The Hurt Locker.” Repeat as often as needed.
Green Zone, director Paul Greengrass, 2010, Universal Pictures, 115 minutes