Monday, March 15, 2010

Movie Review: Green Zone

I'm not going to lie to you...this is not the refreshed feeling I hoped to have come Monday morning. I kind of thought I would be skipping my way into here, ready to deliver unto you the best my wit and the world of movies had to offer. ALAS! Such a thing is not to be. Instead, I remain moderately surly and significantly lazy. Perhaps it is the nut punch of Daylight Savings Time. Perhaps is that I am just chronically fatigued. Perhaps it is that I am a whiner. Who is to say, really? So, my first post of the day is just a review of Green Zone, which I liked. See that, that's not even mildly clever. That's just a statement of fact. "I liked it." It's like saying "Today is Monday" or "The sun rises in the morning" or "Glenn Beck should be lit on fire." Just obvious, boring statements of fact. Anyway, here's my review.

What would Matt Damon do about WMDs?

The Hurt Locker was praised for eschewing the politics of the Iraq war, which is great and all, except for the fact that war is entirely political. Green Zone reminds us of this at gunpoint, with Matt Damon’s fictional character, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, focusing on a real issue about which our elected officials have gone amnesiac. The United States declared war, a war that has claimed tens of thousands of lives, on a lie. Oopsie daisy.

Working from Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book “Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone,” screenwriter Brian Helgeland blended up a fact/fiction cocktail that director Paul Greengrass juiced with his patented hyper-edited action sequences. The film opens with Miller frustrated, as yet another “thoroughly vetted piece of intel” proves to be hooey. Miller smells a rat, and to the dismay of Washington weasel Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear), begins asking whether the case for WMDs was B.S.

Miller’s only ally is CIA agent Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), who is as concerned with the bad intel as he is with the dumb-ass decision to disband the Iraqi Republican Army, a tactical error now recognized as the real birth of the insurgency. Following breadcrumbs dropped by journalist Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan) and a local informant named Freddy (Khalid Abdalla), Miller hangs his hope of exposing the hoax on finding Iraqi General Al Rawi (Yigal Naor). Then fiction diverges from reality with a cathartic exercise in bullets and accusations that comprise a resolution the American people aren’t likely to experience.

Green Zone is messy, with Gleeson and Ryan serving as walking, talking plot devices who aren’t even given much walking and talking to do. No characters are given any substance, but Damon barks angrily enough that we’re inclined to forget. The pace is all “hurry up and wait.” And the now infamous Greengrass dictum “tripods are for sissies,” leaves the audience exhausted. And yet, the substance is so meaty, so thought-provoking that it’s a wonder Green Zone ever got a green light. The action is just a ruse, an excuse to remind audiences about something we’ve forgotten.

It’s best summarized like this: At one point, Poundstone spews gibberish about how rebuilding Iraq is all that matters now, not the reasons for war. Miller grabs his throat and informs him that the reasons for war always matter, that they’re all that matters. Damon may as well have had his hands around our throats. But, alas, it’s just fiction.

Grade = B

Also, just for fun on a Monday.

That's how the film should have ended.

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