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Laremy Legel

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Member of the BFCA and OFCS, writer of criticism, noted interviewer, box office oracle, walker of dog named Bugsy, Qui audet adipiscitur.

Review: Green Zone Lacks Intelligence

4.5

A big ol' mess.

Green Zone is the rare miss from frequent collaborators Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass. Somewhere in here was a real film worth making, with a cogent story and a plausible plot, but they lost the lead somewhere along the way. What they’ve ended up with is a big ol’ mess, a continuous action beat that pauses every 10 minutes to preach — only the preaching is of the uninformed and contradictory kind. The narrative thrust of the film is illogical, even if one accepts the inherent flawed nature of the plot itself. Here’s what I’m saying to you, Matt and Paul: do better next time.

The plot holes are profound. Green Zone follows the story of Matt Damon as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller. He’s in the Army, and his job is to locate weapons of mass destruction during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Only he keeps coming up empty. The movie starts relatively strong because Damon is such a gifted actor; when the camera is following him all seems right with the world. Unfortunately, it can’t follow him the whole time — enter Greg Kinnear as Clark Poundstone, an intelligence officer who is working closely with the administration. Damon starts asking questions, tough questions, of his superiors, bringing him into conflict with Kinnear, a politician trying to toe the party line. Along the way there’s a change of mission, a bit of CIA involvement, and a rival unit that’s clearly a special operations force. If you’re keeping track of this tangled web, it goes something like:

U.S. vs. Iraq

Army vs. Special Ops

CIA vs. Department of Defense

Iraqis vs. the remnant Iraqi ruling class

Sunni vs. Shi’a vs. Kurds

the media vs. planted information.

If it were coherent you’d be able to track with each of these conflicts and pick a side. Sadly, there’s too much going on, and more action to get back to.

In fairness, Green Zone is probably about the flawed intelligence that spurred the United States into invading Iraq back in 2003. But I must say “probably” because the story is really all over the place. It might be a film about what you should do after you invade, how to provide stability, or it could possibly be an expose into failed journalism practices. Perhaps it’s a treatise on leadership skills. But it’s not enough of any one thing to make much sense. Just when you think you understand the motivation and message, you’re whooshed off to an epic action sequence. And then the message changes.

That said, the action is quite fetching, easy to enjoy and be distracted by. Much like the slew of great first-person war games that are being released, Green Zone breaks down the tactics and technology of up close and intimate combat. If you’re able to ignore the story altogether you might find enjoyment here. Otherwise, stay far away.

Grade: C-


Categories: Reviews

Tags: Green zone, Matt damon, Movie reviews

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