Thursday, 11 March 2010

Green Zone - Review

You have to wonder for a moment the creditability of films based on the war in Iraq, while the conflict is still happening. However with Katheryn Bigelow's rather immersive Oscar-winning tale, The Hurt Locker, now the champion of Hollywood, surely Paul Greengrass' latest movie Green Zone could not have come at a better time?

Taking place in the infamous Green Zone at the centre of Baghdad, the film tells the story of a warrant officer - Matt Damon - as he searches rather fruitlessly for the much speculated weapons of mass destruction the nation were supposedly hiding. If you follow the news and general conspiracy theories one can probably imagine how those nature of events unfold.

Paul Greengrass has done a tremendous job of making a war film which was certainly more 'Black Hawk Down' than 'The Hurt Locker' resulting in a visceral attack on the senses, its just a shame the story itself was about as convincing at the government's reasons to pursue the war in the first place.

Despite my grievances with the plot, the actors lent themselves to the feature superbly. Matt Damon has once again shown his credentials as a leading action star despite being one of the more unorthodox choices on initial consideration. I always feel he looks a lot more comfortable on screen performing these types of roles than his appearances in films such as the completely dire Sordenburgh feature, The Informant!, and his supporting role in the competent, yet unspectacular, Invictus.

As luck would have it, Damon's supports in Green Zone were also glorious. The classy and scene stealing Brenden Gleeson - a personal favourite of mine - played the shady CIA role well, along with the stupidly under-rated Greg Kinnear as the somewhat grey government aid. These two characters sum up the feature in a way, there's never really any distinct good guy or bad guy, as they are all with an agenda. Be it Gleeson's character wanting to instill order amongst chaos or Kinnear's making sure Western civilisation have a puppet to control the government.

Other notable appearances in the production go to Amy Ryan's - from The Wire - portrayal of journalist Lawrie Dayne - a subtle take on the New York Times' foreign correspondent, Judith Miller - however I had little time for Jason Issac's bone headed special ops interrogator.

Visually the director puts the audiences right in the thick of it, similar to his Bourne films, dragging you through the claustrophobic bullet laden streets of Baghdad, with an unhealthy dose of shaky cam for good measure. It's not surprising that cinematography for the film was handled by The Hurt Locker's Brian Helgeland either. While John Powell's score wasn't quite as prominent as the explosions the audience are bombarded with from the moment the film begins - the opening scene is rather spectacular to be fair - it did however evoke memories of other modern action films such as Hans Zimmer's work on The Dark Knight.

Final Thoughts
I liked the look of the film, I liked the performances, I liked the intense, highly charged and explosive action pieces, I even liked the utterly absurd concept that Matt Damon is seemingly the only squeakily clean man in the United State's entire operation based in Iraq. However I didn't love any of it like I did when I watched The Hurt Locker for the first time, or even the likes of Black Hawk Down and similar films before it. An enjoyable fictional account of events, but probably best not to take it as anything more.


See This If You Liked...
The Bourne Trilogy, The Hurt Locker, Black Hawk Down

Green Zone is in cinemas everywhere now.

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