Set in Iraq in the months following the 2003 invasion, the film reunites the director Paul Greengrass with his star of the Bourne series. Damon plays an army warrant officer whose WMD sorties keep coming up empty; unwilling to roll over, he"s soon embroiled in a turf war between the CIA and the Pentagon (personified by conscientious Brendan Gleeson and oleaginous Greg Kinnear) while attempting to wrangle a Ba"athist general (Igal Naor), a useful veteran (Said Faraj) and a useless embedded reporter (Amy Ryan) against a backdrop of more-or-less real events.
The movie is full of political rhetoric and has the advantage of crystal clear hindsight. It force-feeds mainstream audiences the lies about the weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that triggered the war and the elaborate cover-up of the truth. The title refers to a designated secure and safe area that includes the old Republican Palace where American decision-makers were isolated from Baghdad"s chaos and destruction.
Greengrass"s approach to real-life disaster is far more simplified and pumped up here than it was in 'United 93" or 'Bloody Sunday", but there"s much to be said for his 'Bourne in Baghdad" approach. The action is robust, the politics simplified but strident, insisting that a wilfully under-prepped war worked against both US and Iraqi interests.
The screenplay, written by prolific veteran Brian Helgeland (“L.A. Confidential") is an adaptation of Rajiv Chandrasekaran"s non-fiction “Imperial Life in the Emerald City," the former Washington Post Baghdad bureau chief"s accounting of the chaos of the L. Paul Bremer III-led C.P.A. Unsurprisingly, the picture works best when it sticks to the intricate details of that world — particularly the internal sniping between the different bureaucratic representatives occupying the same gargantuan palace — and the contrast between the symbols of wealth and ruin abounding therein.
Damon is easy to cheer for and is surrounded by good actors, including a CIA officer portrayed by the always reliable Brendan Gleeson (28 Days Later and the Harry Potter series).
Green Zone continues Greengrass and Damon"s collaboration on making action films for the 'thinking person". This time they are also using the action genre to set the record straight by reminding audiences that despite the rhetoric that has since come out, the rationale behind invading Iraq was based on highly dubious information that Iraq was stockpiling WMDs.
Producer: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lloyd Levin and Paul Greengrass
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear
Rating: 3 out of 5*