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Green Zone

A 2010 political thriller directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Matt Damon.

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"The Reasons WHY We Go To WAR ALWAYS Matters!!"

  • Mar 13, 2010

The war in Iraq. Why exactly did our country ever engage in such a war…weapons of mass destruction? If one remembers, about almost 7 years ago in 2003, then president George W. Bush stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier declaring “mission accomplished” in Iraq. Well, I’ll get right to the point, you may not like director Paul Greengrass’ (The Bourne Ultimatum) and writer Brian Hildeland‘s “Green Zone” if you don’t agree or at least admit the possibility that their point of view is possible, and this is a crucial part of what would either make their film either good or bad in the eyes of the viewer. The film is based on the 2006 non-fiction book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran.
Roy Miller (Matt Damon, Bourne Identity) is a chef warrant officer in the U.S. army who heads a battalion assigned to locating the WMD (weapons of mass destruction) in Baghdad. Most of the Intel is from a mystery man code-named “Magellan” and most of their missions are proven to be wild goose chases. Intel from the pentagon is being given by Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) insists that the “Magellan” information is legit though the evidence points otherwise. Miller becomes suspicious of their sources even more when C.I.A. agent Brown (Brendan Gleeson) confirms his misgivings. When an Iraqi local (Khalid Abdalla) tips Miller off on a meeting place for Iraqi military leaders, Miller and his team springs into action; almost nabbing Saddam’s top general Al Rawi (Igal Naor). Events are set into play that raises more questions and it just feels that something isn’t right. Miller finds himself caught in cat and mouse game where it becomes difficult to see just who the good and the bad guys are.

              Matt Damon in "Green Zone."
Screenwriter Brian Hildeland’s fictional tale of the Iraq war hits real close to home. Much of the film focuses on Roy Miller who plays a character who is caught between following orders and searching for the truth. The screenplay takes the viewer on a journey where the more questions become asked, the more questions come as answers as Roy Miller follows the leads to wherever it leads him. Ok, some may see the scenes as ‘convenient’ but sometimes fate does play its hand in murky waters. I rather enjoyed the way the screenplay played its cards as it seeks to present the underlying layers of subterfuge as the definitions of good guys and bad guys become real hazy. The tricks aren’t dry, simplistic politics though, I thought that the film played the strengths of its script quite well as the main character becomes faced with choices and tough decisions as the winds shift in every situation. Miller is the type of soldier who wants to do what is right, would follow orders to save lives but would also raise questions when something appears out of place. He is pretty patriotic as he asks: “aren’t we all on the same side?” when agent Brown replies “Don’t be naïve”; it seems like he was saying this to Miller as well as the audience.

           Greg Kinnear and Matt Damon in "Green Zone."

                      Jason Isaacs and Matt Damon in "Green Zone."
The direction by Paul Greengrass keeps the screenplay tight, taut and intense as Miller goes around Baghdad trying to find Saddam’s general. Greengrass knows how to generate the feel, atmosphere of the tension-filled action sequences as he does have a lot of practice from the last two movies of the Bourne series. The feel isn’t just politically polemic but it is tough, bold and keeps on moving like a runaway freight train. Yes, the film is for the most part a chase film, and the direction makes its aces around this formula. However, I am glad to report that the action is kept at a realistic level and the action revolves around the plot and not the other way around. There’s a very intense chase sequence in the last act that is just impressive as Miller becomes engaged in a nighttime chase in the dark small streets of Baghdad. The scene is terrific as we see the action from the points of view of night goggles, scopes, helicopters and satellite feeds. Greengrass knows his stuff when it comes to action.

                           Matt Damon in "Green Zone."
I have to admit, “Green Zone” is more successful as an action suspense thriller than as a film about thought-provoking themes. It was also wise for the direction to use real, actual news reels to emulate a feeling of realism.  There are some scenes that allow the viewer to ponder the best course of action in the situation in Iraq, as we see Poundstone brush aside Brown’s warns of the threat of insurgency. The scene was good, albeit admittedly the dialogue appears a little heavy-handed. I do have to commend the direction for sidestepping the temptation to reduce the two characters as mere caricatures and manages to give them some needed ‘meat’ in characterization as with the 'new guard' is set to dismiss the 'old guard'. It would be hard to dismiss the possibility that there may be folks like Brown and Poundstone in reality and the direction capitalizes on this suggestion. The acting by the three key performers (Kinnear, Damon and Gleeson) were good and I thought they complemented one another. 

              Amy Ryan and Matt Damon in "Green Zone."
Much as I enjoyed “Green Zone”, the film isn’t perfect. The closing speech lacked impact and the script, while it went the distance, it couldn’t exactly seal the deal by going all the way. The film left a solid resolution unfulfilled as to what really was the cause for the war and leaves it for the viewer to answer. Once all the gunfire stops and the smoke subsides, it is clear that in the end we are all human. From the republicans and democrats, the CIA and the Pentagon, the press who chases after breaking news and gets slapped when a source isn’t credible, it is all about doing what they think is best…at the time. While I was a tad disappointed at the final scene because it makes the large picture small, I found myself accepting what the direction had crafted.
 “Green Zone” may fail as your taut, tense political espionage suspense-thriller, but the suspense and the thrills do come from the action scenes. I miss the Bourne franchise ( but I do hope they don’t make a 4th one) and this is the closes we can get to seeing Matt Damon play a part close enough to Jason Bourne. “Green Zone” is in the red zone to kick major ass.
Highly Recommended! [4+ Stars]

This Review is a Exclusive

Hype level: Moderate. Damon and Greengrass collaborating in another movie after the success of the Bourne franchise, expectations would be high.


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July 01, 2010
great review! I agree w/ your take on that Don't be naive line... very effective.
July 02, 2010
Thanks, Melissa! Glad you enjoyed this movie! Thanks for the QT!
April 15, 2010
Great review man a friend of mine watched this and said it was good, now that you written this I know she is right.
July 02, 2010
You'd better go get it, Alex! You'll like this one for sure!
March 16, 2010
I'll miss Bourse too, but as Damon says the next one would have to be called THE BOURNE REDUNDANCY! I like Damon and Kinnear so I'll be looking for this one but not until I can see it for free. You've done another outstanding review here Woop.
March 20, 2010
ha-ha! at least Damon is honest that it would be redundant. Heard about the news that there's going to be a MATRIX REBORN or something? Thanks for the kudos, coming from you it means a lot!
March 21, 2010
I'm sure there will be, as long as there's some money to be made out of the franchise they'll keep 'em coming.
March 13, 2010
You frame the film in a context that makes me want to see it more than other reviews I have read. The politics of this film aggravate me because they seem to be part of the revisionist history. Everyone was claiming Saddam had WMD (whether we found them or not)...but that REALLY wasn't the reason we went in. Iraq was in material breach of numerous UN resolutions and was starving their people with secret deals they had made with allies of ours (like France and Germany). The WMD was a heavy sell...and may have been the tipping point...but the "Bush lied" garbage just isn't true. Simply google Iraq WMD quotes and you will find that every major political figure of the 1990s to present have claimed Saddam had WMD.

Great review. Slowly stepping away from the soap box. Still debating on seeing this film. The fact that I am as passionate as I am about this issue is a commendation to your excellent review...because I was dead set against seeing it prior to reading your take.
March 15, 2010
Thanks, buddy! I do understand, and quite frankly I see where most people are coming from. This movie does present different points of view, and it doesn't have a definitive answer to all the questions that were brought up. I don't want to spoil the movie, but your viewpoint is actually a bit explored upon, it is left to the viewer. I guess where the filmamkers were coming from is that the WMD reason may have indeed tipped the scales...but where the movie was coming from wasn't if Saddam had wmd or not, but the faulty intel they've gotten that raised doubts. It does however, slightly bring some things from the Iraqis point of view as some were indeed thankful. I have a friend who is currently serving in Iraq for the 5th or 6th tour (not sure), he firmly believes in the good they are doing, he doesn't say much about it but he believes in what they are doing.

As I've stated in my closing paragraphs, this is an action flick and action is something that was done well. But as a SOLID political-conspiracy thriller, it fails and merely uses it as a backdrop.
July 01, 2010
really well put re: solid action flick, but as political conspiracy it seemed too just scratch the surface of that potential.
March 13, 2010
Like I mentioned earlier, I'm pretty sick of war movies set in the Middle East, but I do like the actor-director team of Greengrass and Damon, so I'll probably check this out on DVD. Cool review. Think they'll ever do another Bourne film?
March 13, 2010
I like the Damon-Greengrass tag team myself. well, they closed the series pretty well. But H-wood always wants to capitalize that I wouldn't be surprised if they found a different director(even an actor) to make a 4th film to the franchise.
March 13, 2010
I don't know, both Damon and Greengrass said that they loved the character and would do another film if they could find the right story and script. Plus, there have been other authors who have continued the books since Ludlum died.
March 13, 2010
Ok, so maybe they have changed their mind about another sequel. But I do hope they do it right. 4 is an unlucky number when it comes to franchises.
March 13, 2010
Unless they plan on doing five, but stopping at four is a bad idea, especially if there's a few years between. Just ask George Lucas.
March 13, 2010
Thanks for the review man, this like any other Matt Damon movie was one I had no interest in seeing, but you have changed my mind. I absolutely disagree with any political stance and comment that flows out of his mouth, simply do to his fake humility soaked in pure arrogance and dipped in elitist ignorance. Not sure if you remember when we chatted but I am from Iraq my family escaped from there. Please know long before Bush Jr. said there was weapons of mass destruction Saddam had used them, yes used bio-weapons of mass destruction (missile delivery system) on the Kurds and Iraqis....(yes this happened) so he did always have the weapons. Also know that Christian's (my people the Assyrians) were there long before Saddam and the place was called Iraq. And he has been murdering them for years and I never heard a peep out of anyone, amazing. Everyone just breezes past the news report of a Church(yes Church in Iraq) was blown up today or two nuns where taken out of a Church in Mosul raped and beheaded by a band of teenagers....most don't remember these constant stories coming out of Iraq because they are not consistent with what they want to believe.. The Clinton administration along with our current VP and Kerry also stated that he had WMD's. As far as the oil claims, where is the oil? And for all those baby killing comments, where were all of those outcrys while Saddam was slaughtering them for years and years and years. That is way all the Bush bashing and US bashing by Damon wears me thin. Just had to air that out for you. As far as this type of movie, I actually liked the Bourne films because of the action and CQC hand to hand, but like I do get tired of all the US bashing and all of the beating our intel agencies take. Like FOX's 24 these shows always come back to have play some rich clandestine older "white guy" to be the bad guy who is funding the great take over. Okay that being said I will go check this out.
March 13, 2010
well said, my friend. I think you may like this one since there are a few scenes that actually say something along the lines of your comment (delivered by the Iraqi character). i think the movie doesn't point an accusing finger but yet, the Intel was well...manufactured or so the movie says. In a way, I suppose the director wants to provoke a reaction from the viewer to decide what is morale or not, since most of the characters are under a shade of gray. I am pretty sure that Iraq did have WMD's at the time and I am actually pretty pleased that you visited this review, my friend. a friend of mine is currently serving in Iraq and believes in what they're doing so we like listening to his experiences, (the ones he can share anyway). I love learning from people. As a political thriller, this does fail quite a bit, but as an action movie it delivered. Just look at it as entertainment and you'll be fine.
March 13, 2010
Yeah man I am actually going to check this out.  My wife and I are going to take some time out and check it out.
March 13, 2010
The reason why any country goes to war is important although how legitimate that reason is is another story, not to mention who supplied that very reason! After so many years of war and also war movies, one point comes to mind. Who you chose as the leader of the country is MOST important! What one does with one's life is depending on who you've as a leader is it not? As they say, follow the leader ;-)
March 13, 2010
I completely agree.
March 13, 2010
agreed. also, remember, a leader has to surround himself with great people, otherwise, it won't work at all.
March 13, 2010
Agreed and I think our country is feeling the effects of who they have selected as their leader. And you said something very important "who you select (elect) as your leader". Iraqi's never had a choice after Saddam took over that country by killing. And if it was not up to the US that sweet guy Saddam would be controlling Kuwait as well and all it oil, which we use to get around everyday.
March 13, 2010
A leader who doesn't or didn't surround himself with the right or the greatest people he has is not such a great leader afterall. In that sense, he fails in his leadership.
More Green Zone reviews
review by . January 30, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: The real soliders that participated     Cons: concept?     The Bottom Line:   "The size of your heart determines who wins.   Modern day life; let the fury begin.   War is hell."  ~The Warriors     In 2010 director Paul Greengrass joined with writer Brian Helegeland to bring us Green Zone, taken from the book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone" by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.   …
review by . March 13, 2010
More Like Dead Zone
GREEN ZONE Written by Brian Helgeland Directed Paul Greengrass Starring Matt Damon, Amy Ryan and Greg Kinnear    Freddy: It is not up to you to decide what happens here.    GREEN ZONE marks the third time actor, Matt Damon, has worked with director, Paul Greengrass. Their previous work on the second and third “Bourne” films must have been pretty mind blowing because Damon has since vowed never to reprise the role that brought him international fame unless Greengrass …
Quick Tip by . September 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
While altogether predictable, Green Zone manages to be an engaging thriller nonetheless mainly because of its strong performances. The film boasts a great cast and skilfull direction by Paul Greengrass. The only thing preventing the film itself from being great is the script, which is well-written, but the combination of real life and fiction here doesn't mesh very well and audiences will be left with a fairly disappointing morality lesson that feels fairly contrived. Still, a good thriller. …
review by . June 25, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
GREEN ZONE is not a great movie, but is a courageous one that boldly steps in front of the audience with some truths that are sobering: WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) never existed, despite their being the rationale for our declaring war on Hussein's Iraq. What novelist Rajiv Chandrasekran ("Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone") from which the movie is adapted, screenwriter Brian Helgeland (LA Confidential, Mystic River, Taking of Pelham 123) and director Paul Greengrass …
review by . June 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
4 stars:
Up until around 2001 no one knew who Irish up and coming director Paul Greengrass was that is until he directed the second of the three Bourne films "The Bourne Supremacy"(2004) that became the highest grossing film for the series at that point. one of Greengrass' most critically acclaimed films following on the heels of  his universally acclaimed "Bloody Sunday"(2002). Three years later  Greengrass directed one of the last decades   most acclaimed  …
Quick Tip by . October 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I found it thought-provoking. Middle son thought it had all been said and done before.
Quick Tip by . August 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I thought this movie had great action for a movie that has been labelled as a political thriller. A well scripted blurring of the lines between fact and fiction may offend some viewers, but makes for an interesting story.
Quick Tip by . July 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Liked Matt Damon in this a lot, and it was entertaining with good action scenes. Not amazing per se, but a pretty thrilling ride. Curious what a military / politics buff would think of how they portrayed the WMD issue. Funny thing to look at it in hindsight.. insane that the country could be so mislead.
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Taunt, extremely intelligent and thought provoking "Green Zone" takes the bold and extremely controversial outlines of why American soldiers are still today fighting in Iraq.
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Matt Damon reteams with hisBourne Supremacydirector to create a thriller grounded in contemporary politics: the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon) travels across war-torn Iraq, pursuing the intelligence he's been given, but every site indicated comes up empty of WMDs. Investigating the source of the intelligence, he finds himself caught between CIA agent Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson,28 Days Later) and politician Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear,Little Miss Sunshine) over the identity of "Magellan," the supposed source. As Miller tracks down an Iraqi general, he ends up further and further afield, facing danger from all sides. It's hard to say which is the greater accomplishment--thatGreen Zonemanages to turn a still-volatile political issue into a propulsive action movie, or that it manages to depict Iraqi people as individuals with a wide range of responses to what's happened to their country. Damon's performance is low-key but effective as Miller tries to maintain some semblance of moral clarity in a circumstance that muddies everything. Also featuring Amy Ryan (Gone Baby Gone) as a compromised journalist and Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner) as an Iraqi civilian who gets dragged into far more than he expected.--Bret Fetzer
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Director: Paul Greengrass
Genre: Thriller
MPAA Rating: R
DVD Release Date: June 22, 2010
Studio: Universal Studios, Universal Pictures
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