War films usually garner an ample audience and in this year’s case, sweep the Oscars. With much attention being awarded to The Hurt Locker, the premiere of another film set in the recent conflicted Iraq War seems like perfect timing. At least, the reuniting of director Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon in the new action-thriller Green Zone, hope that the wave of success for war films continues with their project.
The two have worked together previously on both sequels to the Bourne franchise and it appeared like the publicity for this new film was an extension of these films. However, Green Zone deals with the chaotic beginnings of the Iraq War as an officer uncovers separate and interweaving agendas in the search for WMDs, not the deadly fighting skills of Jason Bourne. Yet, it becomes difficult to distinguish between the franchise and the new film at times due to Greengrass’ signature shaky camera style and action sequences. It’s not to say the action isn’t entertaining, but it seems that Green Zone became a vehicle for another Bourne type of film, instead of becoming it’s own entity.
Right away we are thrown into the action as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon) and his team of Army inspectors are seen in transit to investigate a site that apparently contains weapons of mass destruction. However, no weapons are uncovered and after a few empty handed missions, Miller begins to realize that all these unfortunate opportunities cannot be due entirely to misleading intelligence. He begins to uncover deadly political agendas as he questions Middle East operatives and those in power in Washington D.C.
Even though the story was adapted from journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaren’s non-fiction account of the early days of the occupation in Iraq, Brian Helgeland’s screenplay becomes a fictional woven tale. The characters are completely cut and dry, with Greg Kinnear playing the villain in the Pentagon headquarters and both Damon’s Miller and Amy Ryan as the investigative journalist playing the vigilantes uncovering the truth. Damon does a fantastic job in the lead, keeping the predictable story interesting, but the others are bad characterizations and that’s unfortunate with a cast including the talented Kinnear. Moreover, the visualization of an Army Officer questioning the powers that be during the insurgence of Iraq is a satisfying taste of what could have been.
But that’s just it, this movie could have been great, but it’s a little too late. Even with the previous award winning war film drawing attention to the brave soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, Green Zone doesn’t capitalize on the feelings toward the situation. Instead it brings to the surface old wounds that haven’t fully healed in a formulaic and unoriginal film. The collaboration of Damon and Greengrass serves well as a visceral action experience, but the story falls flat and serves only to drive a figurative fourth installment of the Bourne franchise.
Mirror Film Criticmark@smmirror.com