Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Movie Review - Green Zone

Green Zone - ***1/2

Directed by:  Paul Greengrass

Starring:  Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear

Review:  I was pleasantly surprised by this movie.  What I thought was going to be a run of the mill action/war movie turned out to be a truly good statement movie about America, American intelligence, and the war in Iraq.  I'm gonna say it, I liked this better than The Hurt Locker.

The best part about The Hurt Locker was it's ability to create tension and make you care about the characters without much of a storyline really.  This is one of the rare instances where I would actually say the directing was better than the movie itself.  Normally a hard feat to achieve but reason enough to give Kathryn Bigelow the Oscar.  However, as an overall movie, Green Zone exceeds where The Hurt Locker failed.  Maybe it's because the point of the movies was different, and I recognize that, The Hurt Locker was about one man and his love for doing something with his life, Green Zone is an indictment on the war in Iraq.

My initial thought on this movie, starring Matt Damon and directed by Paul Greengrass of The Bourne Identity fame, was that this was going to turn into "Jason Bourne travels to Bahgdad."  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that was not the case.

The movie centers around Sargent Roy Miller as a leader of a small group of individuals searching for WMD's in Iraq.  After 3 raids go awry Miller begins to question things.  It is Army intelligence that has been giving them the locations to raid and Miller wonders if the intelligence is faulty.  When Miller brings this up to the powers that be, he is rebuffed with the standard that their source has been vetted and is reliable and that he should just shut up and do his job.

Miller knows this is what he is supposed to do but it doesn't sit well with him.  He aligns himself with a CIA agent who has been stationed in the Middle East for quite some time and who also believes like Miller does that something is amiss.  Together they begin to unravel some details of what set the war in motion.  I will stop there so as to not ruin the plot for you.

What made this movie so enjoyable is the storyline.  It presents a very politically charged story that doesn't claim to be the truth but does claim to raise some questions.  The movie brings to light the fact that there is a good chance our government wanted to go to war with Iraq whether there were WMD's or not, whether the end game was necessary is not the question.  The movie questions the government's motives and methods.  The movie also brings to light the ineptitude of American intelligence and the failures of the CIA.  Fact of the matter is, the CIA is one of the worst intelligence agencies around, the rest of the world has had intelligence for much longer and is just plain better at it.  The US's best intelligence weapon is money which they try to throw at everything and hope it solves the problem.  It rarely does.

This movie brings all the points together in an engrossing plot.  At some point it does start to slip into unbelievability that a Warrant Officer is able to operate like he does and get so deep in the middle of something like this.  However, the movie is able to keep it from slipping completely off the edge and still retains an element of believability.  The movie doesn't use it's main character as a hero, rather, the main character is used to propel the story.  Normally, this makes for a bad movie that is so focused on it's story, however, the makers of this movie were skilled enough to keep everything in line and make it extremely enjoyable.  Definitely worth your time.

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