April 9, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): Green Zone is a 2010 English movie directed by Paul Greengrass with Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear in lead roles. Read the film review at Calcutta Tube.
Starring: Matt Damon, Yigal Naor, Khalid Abdalla, Brendan Gleeson, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan
Director: Paul Greengrass
Movie Review by Sampurn
Verdict: Green Zone- Gripping thriller
Rating: 3 out of 5*
Set in Iraq in the months following the 2003 invasion, the film reunites the director Paul Greengrass with his star of the Bourne series. Damon plays an army warrant officer whose WMD sorties keep coming up empty; unwilling to roll over, he’s soon embroiled in a turf war between the CIA and the Pentagon (personified by conscientious Brendan Gleeson and oleaginous Greg Kinnear) while attempting to wrangle a Ba’athist general (Igal Naor), a useful veteran (Said Faraj) and a useless embedded reporter (Amy Ryan) against a backdrop of more-or-less real events.
The movie is full of political rhetoric and has the advantage of crystal clear hindsight. It force-feeds mainstream audiences the lies about the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that triggered the war and the elaborate cover-up of the truth. The title refers to a designated secure and safe area that includes the old Republican Palace where American decision-makers were isolated from Baghdad’s chaos and destruction.
Greengrass’s approach to real-life disaster is far more simplified and pumped up here than it was in ‘United 93’ or ‘Bloody Sunday’, but there’s much to be said for his ‘Bourne in Baghdad’ approach. The action is robust, the politics simplified but strident, insisting that a wilfully under-prepped war worked against both US and Iraqi interests.
The screenplay, written by prolific veteran Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential”) is an adaptation of Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s non-fiction “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” the former Washington Post Baghdad bureau chief’s accounting of the chaos of the L. Paul Bremer III-led C.P.A. Unsurprisingly, the picture works best when it sticks to the intricate details of that world — particularly the internal sniping between the different bureaucratic representatives occupying the same gargantuan palace — and the contrast between the symbols of wealth and ruin abounding therein.
Damon is easy to cheer for and is surrounded by good actors, including a CIA officer portrayed by the always reliable Brendan Gleeson (“28 Days Later,” and the “Harry Potter” series).
Green Zone continues Greengrass and Damon’s collaboration on making action films for the ‘thinking person’. This time they are also using the action genre to set the record straight by reminding audiences that despite the rhetoric that has since come out, the rationale behind invading Iraq was based on highly dubious information that Iraq was stockpiling WMDs.
Movie Review by IANS
War is never inevitable. Peace should always be. Going back into the history of most wars, be it Vietnam, or the film’s domain, the Iraq war, we realise this truth. That most wars are fought on flimsy reasons meant to make war sound inevitable.
It’s April 2003, Iraq has been occupied by US forces for a month, but there are no signs of Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD), the basis for the war. One man more curious than most is Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon). He has led his team on dangerous raids based on reliable’ intelligence but has been unable to find even a trace of WMDs. When his top brass are unable to explain why, he decides to take matters into his own hands and go beyond the call of duty.
With the help of an Iraqi citizen and a CIA agent who also wants the truth, he tracks Al-Rawi (Yigal Naor), the top general in Saddam’s army, who he realises is the mysterious informer Magellan who is supposed to have confirmed the existence of WMDs. However, discovering the truth won’t be easy as he has to battle his own forces, and take on General Al-Rawi single handedly.
It is a truth we all know now — that there were no WMDs in Iraq, thus making the invasion of Iraq illegitimate.
The film shows how the real danger is a WMD of a different kind, those cheekily called ‘Weapons of Mass Deception’. In one particular scene, Miller is told: ‘All they are interested in is spotting something they can hold up on CNN.’
War is fought more in people’s minds than on ground. Sway their judgement and you can get away with almost anything — even, as in this case, invading a country. And the partners in crime is an irresponsible media more interested in �breaking news’ and ad revenues than the truth.
‘Green Zone’ effectively interweaves fact and fiction. Writer Brian Helgeland wrote the screenplay based on the non-fiction book ‘Imperial Life in the Emerald City’ by American-Indian Rajiv Chandrasekaran.
The film has many characters reminiscent of real life characters like Clark Poundstone who is modelled on Paul Bremer who actually dissolved the Iraqi army in 2003. The character of WSJ journalist Lawrie Dayne is based on New York Times reporter Judith Miller who was embedded in Iraq during the war.
Fans of the ‘Bourne’ series will love the coming together of director Greengrass and Damon. The shaky, documentary style of camera made fashionable for Hollywood by the ‘Bourne’ series works to heighten tension, and gives us a gritty, edge of the seat thriller.
Damon is believable as the straight-faced soldier. But it is Khalid Abdalla as Fareed, a hurt and concerned Iraqi, who does an excellent job.
The main drawback is that despite its courage to go where not many Hollywood films have dared it stops short of taking that leap of truth. It uncovers the intrigue but fails to give it completely, which we now know — that the office and indeed the President of the United States himself were involved in the cover-up over WMDs and Iraq war. Also no explanations are given about the reason for Iraq’s invasion.
Yet ‘Green Zone’ does tell us that the truth is ‘not’ the first casualty of war. The real casualties of war are justice, kindness and compassion and deaths that could have been easily avoided because no war is truly inevitable.