The Green Zone
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas
With the possibility of a fourth installment of the Jason Bourne series stuck in the middle of a development quagmire, actor Matt Damon, director Paul Greengrass, and Universal Pictures decided to proceed in a different, but similar direction. They came up with Green Zone, based on a novel about the Iraq War, written by the former Bagdad Bureau Chief for the Washington Post.
Although our hero in this outing is not a super agent dashing all over the globe, Matt Damon is fine in the role of Roy Miller, a Chief Warrant Officer who takes it upon himself to disobey orders and find his own way to uncover the truth about weapons of mass destruction in the early days of the war. As you might guess, he becomes embroiled in a massive political conspiracy plot. The script by Brian Helgeland, who penned adaptations of both Mystic River and L.A. Confidential works fine as a contemporary thriller. And since Helgeland also wrote the Mel Gibson-Julia Roberts film Conspiracy Theory, he has plenty of experience in that genre.
The main drawback to Green Zone is director Paul Greengrass’s insistence on using the dreaded “shaky-cam” style, which puts the viewer in the position of bouncing up and down and back and forth with the constant camera movements. Fortunately, this effect isn’t used continuously, but when it is, it can be extremely annoying and distracting. And as with many war films, there’s much yelling and noise, to the point that you have to ignore the dialogue and just go with the action. Greengrass has the potential to be a really good director if he can ever get past his penchant for using this now overused technique.
The supporting cast is what helps bring Green Zone to above average status. Greg Kinnear, who usually does either romantic comedy or average everyman roles, portrays the weaselly government representative, who oozes slime with every line of dialogue. Irish actor Brendan Gleeson is the CIA operative in Bagdad who becomes Damon’s ally in his quest. Amy Ryan, who was so good in Ben Affleck’s Gone Baby Gone, is basically wasted as a reporter from the Wall Street Journal, but she does fine with the small role. The Arab supporting players are all good, with a couple of them giving exceptional portrayals, especially Khalid Abdalla as Freddy, an Iraqi who just wants to help his country.
The score by John Powell, a veteran of all three Bourne films, is okay, but nothing memorable. And that pretty much sums up Green Zone as a whole…okay, but nothing memorable
While it does not have the human impact and dramatic tension of The Hurt Locker, Green Zone does work as both a war and action film. Just don’t expect too much and it’s worth a couple of hours in a theatre.
The R-rated Green Zone is now showing pretty much everywhere.