I saw this movie a week ago and am only just publishing a review, why? Version one condemned the movie for not being as good as The Hurt Locker; Version two was a rant suggesting two former world leaders are war criminals for starting an illegal war; Version three was a lengthy explanation of how the movie differs from the Bourne movies. The following is probably a combination of all three rather than the new and original review it was supposed to be but I am not going to do a version five.
Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) is looking for weapons of mass destruction in post invasion Iraq its no great surprise that he doesn’t find any. When he challenges the intelligence he is stonewalled by people who have their own agenda. Before long he is following his own leads to which he receives both support and opposition for warring factions on his own side.
Directed by Paul Greengrass and staring Matt Damon the comparisons to the Bourne movies is inevitable but completely miss the point, true they share an actor and director and both have action but that’s where the similarity ends. The Bourne movies are concept movies based around Jason Bourne’s searching for his identity and his memory. Green Zone is about a wholly different character, what Miller is looking for isn’t in his head, it is very real and quantifiable. The problem is that the quantity in question is zero, Hans Blix failed to find weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of Iraq and yet The British and American governments went to war in the hope they would find some after the invasion. We all know that no such weapons were found. Millers realisation that he wasn’t going to find anything is the most telling thing about the film. The UK release of the movie couldn’t be more timely with the Chilcot Inquiry in full swing the so called “dodgy dossier” and the “Sexed-up” intelligence reports are back in the news. We have also had former Prime Minister Toney Blair giving a performance testimony worthy of Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.
Back to the movie, the real strength is the blend of the genres; it is an all action movie with a political point of view and more importantly a conscience. Matt Damon is looking every inch the movie star and like Linus Caldwell, his character in Ocean’s Eleven he has fought his way out from the shadow of his once more famous contemporaries. Damon is always centre stage but is well supported by Jason Issacs (and his moustache), Greg Kinnear and Brendan Gleeson. The one disappointment is Amy Ryan, after her brilliant turn in Gone Baby Gone she was a little wasted here, her character a necessary evil to introduce a plot device when it could have been a key part of the narrative.
Greengrass’ documentary style with its shaky hand held cameras has received plaudits and detractors in equal measure, whatever your thoughts on it, it is perfect for this movie. The film depicts a war that was fought in the public eye on CNN and Sky News, movies like The Hurt Locker and the TV show Generation Kill are based on stories by journalists. The style of the film gives it the same authenticity, it also benefits from the work of talented cinematographer Barry Ackroyd who also shot The Hurt Locker and worked with Greengrass on United 93.
As mentioned at the top it isn’t as good as The Hurt Locker but then it is a very different movie, while Green Zone blends genres, The Hurt Locker transcended its genre.