Green Zone

Matt Damon in Iraq War drama "Green Zone"

“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


About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on March 12, 2010, in What were they thinking?. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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