PLOT: In 2003, a soldier (Damon) in Baghdad is searching for weapons of mass destruction. When he begins to question the legitimacy of the information given to him, he starts hunting for the highly protected anonymous source.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Those who enjoy action movies, but don't mind (or are attracted to) political nudges wedged between fast-moving sequences of various degrees of combat.
EXPECTATIONS: From a glance at a trailer, it appeared that this would be a somewhat political actioner, very much from the mind of the duo that made two Jason Bourne films.
Matt Damon as Chief Roy Miller: The American soldier is given a very heroic portrayal by Damon, who adds only a little bit of Jason Bourne into his version of the action protagonist, who is more non-fictional than not. He does not fly solo but works with a group in this round. Not particularly credited with a life outside of the military, he stands for a decent example of how people were tricked into believing WMDs ever existed at all. Score: 6
Greg Kinnear as Clark Poundstone: Just like Damon, Kinnear’s sharp-looking man-in-suit seems destined to gain comparisons to many politicians from this era of the Iraq war, not just one. He’s manipulative and devious, always with the image of "pride of America" as his number one priority. A sticky character to directly demonize, but that’s politics, right? Score: 4
TALKING: George W. Bush’s legendary “Mission Accomplished” speech is heard, but only in a few snippets. Greengrass doesn’t give that peculiar moment in a lot of history, possibly because we all know the results. Score: 5
SIGHTS: The skyline of Baghdad, tragically under fire, makes for a couple of striking moments in city cinematography at the beginning and end of the film. Considering that Green Zone wasn’t shot in Iraq, special effects do an impressive job of dressing up Morocco/Spain as the tumultuous battleground that is Baghdad in 2003. And yes, similar to the Bourne films, the action of the movie is captured with a hyperactive handheld camera. At times the action can be indiscernible, especially when certain scenes do not have much lighting. Score: 6
SOUNDS: Suitable to the atmosphere of which the not-so-peaceful Green Zone takes place, the chaos is very loud, from sporadic gunfire, to the various vehicles, and especially the people. An intense score that uses explosive timpanis supports this sound assault. With all of this combined, you have numerous shots of adrenaline for your ears – not to mention a lazy sound mixer’s nightmare. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: The first time where Damon and Co. are shown in a chaotic side of town looking for WMDs is pretty thrilling, and includes some very authentic military action.
ENDING: Miller discovers what we know now, and makes a couple of life-changing decisions. Then, as the credits roll, we remember this happened seven years ago. Sigh.
REWATCHABILITY: I would be open to watching this movie again when it comes out on Blu-ray. I can at least have the option of controlling the volume.
Thinking less like the Bourne movies and more like Greengrass’ United 93, this is a film that doesn’t make its audience ask themselves “Why did this event happen?” but instead, “Why, exactly, was this movie made?” Green Zone is a simple story built around the thrill of watching a soldier in harm’s way begin to piece together some suspicions over the questionable existence of weapons of mass destruction. But since we know what the answer is, we only have the excitement of watching an American soldier kick ass in the name of justice, which is provided in only a couple of truly enthralling action sequences. Still, since we are aware of the end result of his heroism, we spend much of the time simply waiting for him, and this film, to get with the times.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10