Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Green Zone

What is compelling Hollywood to continue to ignore shitty box office numbers by making more movies about the bungled Iraq War? I guess after the Hurt Locker won all those awards at the Oscars they all thought, "what the hell, we'll keep trying this until something, anything sticks." Now putting Matt Damon in front of the camera and Paul Greengrass behind it is a great first step. The ads were excellent portraying Matt Damon as a good soldier trying to do his best during the horrors of war. They took the page from the Bourne script and showed us a little taste of what Bourne Ultimate-Ultimatum would look like. It was fast paced and intense with that dizzying hand held camera business that Greengrass has used so effectively in the past. They sold me on the trailer not to mention I had been curious to read the book this was based loosely on by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone.It is 2003 and the Shock and Awe campaign has begun. We follow Chief Warrant Officer Miller (Matt Damon) as he takes his unit to various sites around Baghdad looking for WMD. His frustration mounts as he is having no luck at finding these weapons. He begins to doubt the source and gets sucked into a political battle between the CIA and the administration that threatens to expose gross incompetence and faulty morality.I really, really wanted to love this film but I just feel that it came 6 years too late. Matt Damon is great as the no-nonsense Chief out to discover the truth. And it pains me to think that I chuckled a bit in the beginning when he said with all seriousness, "I can't find the WMD!" It comes across as funny because, we the American public, have known there wasn't any WMD in Iraq since at least 2004. Already after about ten minutes I knew how this was going to play out. There was almost no suspense at all. The action was great and you really felt for Chief Miller who obviously was in way over his head but again they didn't really bring anything new to the table. It was great seeing the time line unfold from Bush's speech on the Aircraft carrier to the Sunni walk out after the negotiations fell apart and the dismantling of Saddam's Republican guard. It was all very interesting to see these events from within Iraq, but it should have at least given us a stronger glimpse as to how these events affected the average Iraqi on the ground. Instead it was more like reading the news and seeing a snippet of overseas footage.Greengrass does do a great job ramping up the action scenes and showing us a bit of life in Iraq, but again it just feels too late because Kathryn Bigelow did the same thing with much more efficiency in the Hurt Locker from last year. I thought that the set pieces were really
fantastic. And even though his cinematography was at times vomit-inducing, it was extremely effective at showing the despair and insanity of the war zone. It was also helped by a great supporting cast in the pencil pusher heavy Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) and his rival in the CIA Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson). Also I swear that the lead Delta who had a hard on for killing Miller, Briggs was played by British actor Jason Issacs. (Go look at IMDB if you don't believe me) All I have to say is wow, that guy really bulked up for this role I truly didn't even recognize him. Didn't even sound like him. There was also Amy Ryan who played the reporter. Now don't get me wrong, I think she's a great actress but they just didn't seem to know what to do with her. I almost forgot she was in the movie, just now, which is probably not a good sign.Sigh, I'll say it again, if only they made this fucking movie a few years ago. The film would be completely scandalous because of their heavy hitting of the Bush administration and it would have been far more compelling. Now it just sort of seems like an I told you so movie but instead of new information coming to light, they just repeat the mantra. "No WMD!" and "The Administration lied!" It's not a terrible film, really, 5 years ago it would be a solid 4 Buckets....but since it's now 2010 I gotta go with a middling 2 and half. Dem's the breaks Hollywood, next time grow a pair and make the movie sooner.

Grade: 2 & 1/2 Buckets


Speck said...

Totally disagree.

The movie starts on an action and the intensity doesnt stop for the next two hours. The film holds our attention and even keeps us on edge for the entire length of the film. I found I was easily drawn in and held until the credits rolled.

And as though the subject material is dated, its a sad and truthful reminder of how screwed our government has become and what roads we are headed down.

Jeff said...

Never said the intensity of the action wasn't there or that it wasn't good--I just felt that because they were covering ground that was such common knowledge for so long it almost seemed a waste. I mean he's searching for something the audience already knows is not there--give us a little something to keep us guessing. I haven't read the book this is based on yet--but I can't fathom there wasn't something in there they couldn't have used to give us a broader picture of what was going on and why.

But as an action film, yeah, it totally works. But I agree it is a sad reminder of the Pandora's box this war has opened.