Country: United States
Genre: Action/ Drama
Director: Paul Greengrass
TRASH CINEMA RECOMMENDED MOVIE
I had one huge disadvantage going into Green Zone. I know 100 times more about the Iraq War than most Americans ever will. The whole point of Green Zone is that not only were there no WMDs in Iraq, the United States government knew it going in, and in fact functionaries in the government faked the evidence so we would have an excuse to bomb the crap out of Iraq.
Now, to me, that was painfully obvious even before we invaded.
But it will be news to many Americans. For those who don’t know this basic material, The Green Zone should be a revelation. We faked intelligence to start an unprovoked war. According to international law, The United States is a rogue nation, and those who conspired to start a war against Iraq are war criminals, no if, and, or buts about it. They deserve to be tried in the Hague just as much as the Nazis did.
I suppose that is enough to put in front of the notoriously clueless American public at one time. In fact, Paul Greengrass and the makers of Green Zone hedged their bets and couched this tiny sliver of information in the form of a Bourne Identity thriller. I guess they figured, “If we can’t slip this tiny bit of information into an action thriller that is technically not a whole lot different than the Bourne adventures, and make the public go along with it, then we might as well hang it up.”
Of course, Green Zone was not a financial success. The American public may be stupid, but they are geniuses at one thing. If anyone tries to sell them on anything in a movie, they can spot it ten seconds into the movie. It doesn’t matter how clever the filmmakers are. The public will reject your movie, just like they rejected Green Zone.
But is Green Zone any good? Well, the filmmaker is Paul Greengrass, whose Bourne thrillers were marvels of intricate plot construction, innovative cinematography, and razor sharp editing. Greengrass adapts the formula to a slightly fictionalized thriller.
Poor army schmo Miller (Matt Damon) is leading one of the units searching for supposed WMDs, but he and his team repeatedly come up empty. Miller starts to suspect that the intelligence is flawed. It turns out that the source of the intelligence is classified, but Miller figures out that it’s a certain Iraqi general. Bush Administration scumbag Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) realizes that if Miller can track down the general, the whole deception will be out in the open, so he sends a squad of hired killers, led by Briggs (Jason Isaacs) to eliminate the general before Miller can find him.
There really isn’t a whole lot to criticize about how Green Zone is executed. The look of the picture is right. The action is convincing. It’s all tightly written and professionally acted, and yet….
As I said, maybe the problem is that I’m just too familiar with the material. I knew where the damned film was going five minutes in. There were almost no surprises. The filmmakers forced themselves to parcel out plot points by the teaspoonful so they wouldn’t leave anyone behind. As agitprop, that’s probably the best strategy, but for someone who knows one hell of a lot about Iraq, it’s boring.
The filmmakers give us the absolute minimum information possible to get their point across and spend most of the film on running and gunning to sweeten the pot for the average viewer.
For those of you who are curious as to why we were in Iraq, I suggest Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. There’s a chapter in there about Iraq. Frankly, The Shock Doctrine is one of the most important books written in this young century. Just prepare yourself to be truly horrified.
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