Published Mar 11, 2010If you were to take the handheld aesthetic and overwhelming in-the-moment action of The Bourne Supremacy, the tangential, irreverent daydream of Inglourious Basterds and the terrifying male solipsism of The Hurt Locker, but take away the self-reflexivity, the humour, the subtlety and the intelligence, you might be left with something like Green Zone. Which is ostensibly a vérité-docudrama-cum-fantasy relaying little shock or nuance in promulgating the whole WMD American conspiracy with the stoicism, graveness and unintentional amusement of Charlton Heston at a gun rally.
Noted as being inspired by Rajiv Chandrasekaran's darkly comic detailing of the Coalition Provisional Authority, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, this latest slam of the Bush administration concocts an overly simplistic black & white thriller immediately following the American invasion of Iraq, leaving reconstruction handlings for history textbooks. Matt Damon plays Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, a sneering, cocky, idealistic man bent on unveiling the truth behind the paucity of reported WMDs on noted sites.
Aided by Freddy (Khalid Abdalla), a local political extremist, Miller seeks the truth behind Judith Miller, er, Lawrie Dayne's (Amy Ryan) Wall Street Journal articles detailing confirmation of Iraqi WMBs through a source called Magellan. Eventually realizing that there is something awry with the Pentagon's intelligence, concluding that Dayne was used as a patsy to further an American agenda based on lies, our altruistic soldier puts it on himself to fix all wrongs, with the unlikelihood of a mythic superhero.
Of course, all of this plays out in constant chaos, with gunshots and exploding helicopters distracting us from the single voice and lack of drama outside of said protracted shootouts and visually incomprehensible chases. Indeed, we feel like we're in the middle of the action, but without any sense of characterization or dramatic relevance it all gets old quickly, coming off as little more than repetitive, migraine-inducing white noise, generating boredom where urgency is intended.
Tedium aside, there's no denying the technical acuity of Greengrass's stunning political thriller, which, combined with the obtuse simplicity of the plot, should appeal to, and rivet, anyone looking to compartmentalize complex world issues for the sake of narrow ideological reinforcement. (Universal)