Green Zone Review

green zone film review Brief Synopsis

The leader of a unit in the U.S. Military assigned to track down Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) becomes skeptical after receiving bad intelligence about their whereabouts on a number of occasions. His search for the truth occurs at a critical time during the war in Iraq and threatens to expose inconsistencies in the case for war.

Man on a Mission

Roy Miller (Matt Damon) heads a team of inspectors charged with finding WMD stockpiled in Iraq shortly after the capital has been taken in 2003. To put it simply, the Chief Warrant Office and his team are adept at kicking ass and taking names, but they are getting tired of fighting their way through to empty, long out of use warehouses. In the next briefing Miller asks questions about the faulty intelligence and when he doesn’t get straight answers, he decides to get his nose dirty. Director Paul Greengrass and Damon worked together on the Bourne sequels and this film continues in that vein. The camera work is minimalist, shaky and chaotic, which mirrors the situation and the break neck speed at which the capable Miller operates, springing quickly from one lead to the next and doing everything he can to find the WMD, and failing that, the truth. From an action point of view, this movie rocks, from start to finish.

An Inconvenient Truth

Unsatisfied with missions Miller is in search of the motives (or lack thereof), and the old hand in the Middle East, CIA operative Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) agrees that something smells fishy. Miller gets a strong lead and Brown invites him to a poolside chat in the Green Zone where he and his troops – fresh from the field, still in full combat gear – stand in stark contrast to the barbeque atmosphere at the palace, complete with hot broads, cold beer and Snoop D-o-double-g on the ghettoblaster. This scene is perhaps used to illustrate the disconnect between policy makers and the actual situation on the ground, as is trying to install an Iraqi-exile, who after 30 years of absence is virtually unknown to Iraqis.

Shake Hands with the Devil

What this movie and others like it (Body of Lies) often boil down to is the conduct of war, obviously the case for war plays a big part, but tactics, and strategic decisions are often taken by those with either little knowledge of or little regard for the local populace and the real situation. For istance, ridding the country of all Ba’ath associated elements is presented as a catostrophic mistake, as it removes the state’s ability to function and maintain order. Specifically, with regards to disbanding the Iraqi Army, would it not be better to take in a prominent General from the old regime, if he can provide stability? The sage Brown thinks that if it would save lives and keep the citizen and soldier safe then it’s worth it to shake hands with the devil. Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) is the Pentagon bureaucrat who sees things otherwise and makes sure the band marches to his tune. Miller finds he is soon battling enemies within and without in his pursuit of the truth. The film is a microcosm for the failed case for war and is too soundly wrapped with political dialogue, but in so doing succinctly (and obviously) proves it’s point. Regardless, it’s a hard hitting action flick definitely worth seeing.

Interesting side note: Jason Isaacs plays the leader of the Special Forces team and is probably the best in the business when it comes to villains (see The Patriot, Harry Potter, etc.).

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