But camera work aside, Green Zone also plays loose and wiggly with the story. Set in Iraq in 2003, Green Zone's all about America's invasion of Iraq under false pretenses. It's not a new story; there are no groundbreaking revelations contained in Green Zone's two hour running time. And as the rehash of past events play out in Green Zone, screenwriter Brian Helgeland doesn't even do anything interesting with the concept. Too many shortcuts are taken getting to the heart of the story, with stereotypical characters doing exactly what you expect them to do, even if whatever it is would never happen in real life.
The StoryAfter his third time investigating a supposed WMD facility and coming up empty, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) is done putting his men at risk. Speaking up at a meeting with his superiors and government officials, Miller says he doesn't think the intel they're being forced to work off of is any good. No WMDs have been discovered, and the sites his team's been sent to obviously never had anything to do with making weapons.
But Poundstone is powerful, with infinite resources at hand and the ability to make soldiers appear out of nowhere to stop Miller from his quest to bring Al Rawi in unharmed. Miller and CIA Agent Brown need to get Al Rawi in custody and on the record before Poundstone can silence him forever, thus assuring the world will never know the truth behind the Iraq war. It's a race to see who can capture the Iraqi General first, with the fate of all Iraqis at stake and the truth hanging in the balance.
The Bottom LineGreen Zone's message is that finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was never the reason America went to war. Really? You think? The film posits that the American government knew WMDs didn't exist, but we used that lie as a means to overthrow the government. The reason behind the Bush administration's desire to enter Iraq isn't really addressed in the film, just that the Pentagon officials want it done and the CIA is opposed to the invasion. But the way screenwriter Helgeland goes about fixing this mess, by using one lone officer fighting the good fight when everyone else is walking around with blinders on, is taking too drastic of a shortcut with a complicated story.
And while Matt Damon's a fine actor and absolutely terrific as an action star, his character is so farfetched, so lacking any basis in reality, that it's difficult to give yourself over to his story and go with him on his quest for the truth. This Chief Warrant Officer goes off the grid, yet he's also in and out of the main military headquarters, often interacting with the very people who are supposedly trying to stop him. And there are absolutely no repercussions for his actions, which are not sanctioned and against explicit orders. He just goes wherever he wants, putting the lives of his men in danger without any consequences. It just doesn't make any sense.
The film would have had more impact had it been released five or six years ago. Hitting theaters in 2010, Green Zone just revisits a debate that's no longer timely or relevant. However, if you like shaky cam action movies, there are a decent amount of hardcore fight scenes sprinkled throughout Green Zone. It's just too bad there's not a better story to fill the gaps between those action sequences.
Green Zone was directed by Paul Greengrass and is rated R for violence and language.
Theatrical Release Date: March 12, 2010