Monday, March 15, 2010

Green Zone

"I know what you did!"

Action packed, but still grounded in reality Green Zone is an entertaining flick, but if the infamous Greengrass shaky cam  makes you queasy then you might want to wait for the DVD. The first thing I thought when I saw the trailer for Green Zone is that this was essentially a fourth Bourne movie. Well having seen the movie I can say with certainty that this is NOT a Bourne movie. Matt Damon plays a very different character in this movie, though it is not unfair to draw similarities. The critics are polarized on this one, currently it sits at 50% on RT.

The basics of the plot follow events in Iraq after the US have seized Baghdad and are scouring the city in search of WMD's. Matt Damon plays Miller, one of the US troops tasked with securing WMD materials uncovered by highly placed intelligence asset Magellan (an asset completely controlled by Clark Poundstone a political suit played by Greg Kinnear). Miller is dissatisfied though as every site he and his team hit comes up empty, worse there is no evidence WMD's were ever present in the first place. When he attempts to raise questions about the intelligence asset, his concerns are quickly dismissed, nobody wants to question it. Enter Brendan Gleeson as Martin Brown, the resident CIA chief who is just as miffed about the situation as Miller. The two quickly join forces in an attempt to uncover the truth about Magellan and to answer the one big question - were there ever any WMD's to begin with?

Matt Damon has established himself as a very diverse actor over the last decade, and he delivers another solid performance in this movie. The thing I like best about Damon is his ability to humanize pretty much every character he plays (I choose to forget about Stuck On You, I bet he does as well). Take a look at the Bourne Supremacy, The Departed and Rounders, in every movie he plays a different character, but still brings substantial depth and presence to each. Another favorite of mine, Brendon Gleeson, has a terrific range as well, if you watch his part in this back to back with In Bruges, you would be hard pressed to believe it was the same person. Gleeson is especially good at the whole brusque no-nonsense attitude of the CIA officer who has to bend his knee to the room full of politicians (I think he did a much better job in this kind of part than Crowe did in Body of Lies). As long as I'm talking about cast, I have to mention Greg Kinnear. I don't know if its the character, the writing or just the way he plays it, but Poundstone comes across as a complete villain. I know Hollywood likes its black and white heroes and villains, but this guy has absolutely no redeeming qualities at all - in fact I'd say its one of the few points in the movie that really breaks with the overall realistic theme.

One consensus we did come to after seeing the movie is that the ending feels a little unsatisfying. However, we also came to the conclusion that perhaps that was the point. As I discuss this in greater detail keep in mind that this is fiction, not fact (even if I believe this is a plausible scenario). In the movie, the constant question as to whether there every were WMD's is answered conclusively, it is also suggested that the politicians were responsible for the war that was claiming the lives of US soldiers. As such an unsatisfying ending was really the only option. Something to keep in mind though is that the ending is anything but uplifting, not that its as horrifically depressing as Edge of Darkness, but it is gritty and real - so if you like your movies to be light and fluffy, skip this one.

Other than the ending I can find no real point of fault with this movie - well other than for those with motion sickness (Greengrass loves the shaky cam). All in all the movie feels very real and very down to earth, in a somewhat similar fashion to Black Hawk Down. I like movies that try to stay faithful to the source material over those that choose to fall into the generic black and white morality tale. After all is said and done on this one I found it very entertaining and would certainly call it another success for Damon et al. Go see it before it leaves theaters.

Final Verdict on Green Zone:

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