'Green Zone': Matt Damon goes on an action-packed weapons hunt in Iraq
"Green Zone" is Paul Greengrass' action-filled but superficial Iraq war drama. It focuses on an increasingly cynical warrant officer (Matt Damon), who discovers that his superiors can't handle the truth when the search for weapons of mass destruction leads nowhere.
Special to The Seattle Times
'Green Zone,' with Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson. Directed by Paul Greengrass, from a screenplay by Brian Helgeland. 115 minutes. Rated R for violence and language.
If you count yourself among the millions who believe that weapons of mass destruction will be found in Iraq, "Green Zone" offers little comfort.
Even if you're a nonbeliever, the movie can be a frustrating experience. It refuses to get specific and name names, although certain characters say and do things that are recognizably the work of Coalition Provisional Authority boss Paul Bremer and New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
The result is a slightly above-average wartime thriller that delivers car chases, gunbattles and looting episodes that dominated the streets of Baghdad during the "shock and awe" period of early 2003.
While it does an impressive job of suggesting the chaos of a mismanaged invasion, the picture suffers in comparison with "The Hurt Locker," which more effectively dramatized the events of 2004.
What's really missing here is a reason for going over this WMD material again. The movie might have seemed a revelation if it had been released six or seven years ago, but there's no fresh angle, few surprises and no character who steps boldly forward to suggest heroism or corruption.
Directed by Paul Greengrass, who collaborated with Matt Damon on the last two "Bourne Identity" movies, it focuses on an increasingly cynical warrant officer, Roy Miller (Damon), who discovers that his superiors (led by the scene-swiping Greg Kinnear) can't handle the truth when the search for weapons leads nowhere.
An equally suspicious C.I.A. veteran (Brendan Gleeson) lets Miller know he's on to something, while Amy Ryan plays a Wall Street Journal reporter whose enthusiasm for locating the weapons begins to dwindle when she can't find reliable sources.
Occasionally there's a glimpse of the curiously casual luxury of life in the Green Zone, with its palatial swimming pools and ever-present American fast food, but not nearly enough to justify the promise in the movie's title.
The Oscar-winning screenwriter, Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential"), was inspired by Rajiv Chandrasekaran's nonfiction book, "Imperial Life in the Emerald City." The script sometimes suggests the filmmakers wanted to go all the way with "just the facts."
That didn't happen. But still, the movie has its passionately felt moments, especially when Iraqi citizens are expressing their love of their homeland.
"I want more than you want," says an Iraqi patriot to an American who has to admit that he's simply visiting this place.
John Hartl: email@example.com
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