From the trailers and hype, you might guess that “Green Zone” is actually “The Bourne Identity 4.” After all, you have the same director (Paul Greengrass) and Matt Damon reprising a role as the rebellious anti-government agent. But don’t assume that means this is a stale, rehashed plot. “Green Zone” is actually very good.
We arrive in Iraq a few months after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Matt Damon stars as Officer Roy Miller, who leads a team checking out potential sites of weapons of mass destruction. Of course, he’s not actually finding any WMD at the sites, just empty warehouses. On a tip from a local, Miller and his troops stumble across an Iraqi Army meeting and almost capture General Al-Rawi—one of Saddam’s closest allies. Soon Miller’s on a mission to find Al-Rawi and figure out why he can’t find any WMD in Iraq.
This is first and foremost a war film; soldiers and civilians alike get shot and blown up. But it doesn’t have the gory feel of, say, “Saving Private Ryan.” Just like the “Bourne” films, there’s a lot of stylized, shaky camerawork that shows plenty of violence, but without the stomach-churning gore of some war films.
Nor does “Green Zone” glamorize war: the American mission in Iraq looks incredibly unappealing. In fact, the film serves as a wry commentary on the Iraq war. Damon’s character repeatedly questions the reasons for invading Iraq, and it’s not quite funny when soldiers watch former President Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech on T.V. Like “Inglorious Basterds”, too, this film rewrites history for a more positive ending.
Damon is a little bit typecast in this role, and it’s hard not to see him as Jason Bourne. The acting is pretty solid, with appearances by Amy Ryan (“Changeling”), Greg Kinnear (“Ghost Town”), and Brendan Gleeson (“In Bruges”), as well as Israeli and British actors. The sets and effects are truly incredible, especially given that the film wasn’t actually shot in Baghdad.
My advice is Yes, see this movie. In many ways, we’ve seen the rogue-operative-uncovers-conspiracy-plot before, and none of the characters are particularly groundbreaking. The scenery and visuals are fantastic, though, and the story is a through-provoking reflection of what happened (and continues to happen) in Iraq. Don’t take kids—there’s profanity and violence throughout—but anyone else would do well to see “Green Zone.”