Green Zone (2010)

Green Zone (2010)
  • Time: 115 min
  • Genre: Action | Drama | Thriller
  • Director: Paul Greengrass
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson


During the U.S.-led occupation of Baghdad in 2003, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller and his team of Army inspectors were dispatched to find weapons of mass destruction believed to be stockpiled in the Iraqi desert. Rocketing from one booby-trapped and treacherous site to the next, the men search for deadly chemical agents but stumble instead upon an elaborate cover-up that threatens to invert the purpose of their mission.


  • Three years after the huge success of the Bourne trilogy’s final instalment, Paul Greengrass and his star Matt Damon returned with this conspiracy action thriller set just after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It focuses on Damon and his team’s searches for Weapons of Mass Destruction to no avail. It is as Damon begins to question his own side that he meets Brendan Gleeson’s Middle East expert; who also suspects that something is not quite right. The second act of Greengrass’ film is a cleverly constructed conspiracy thriller that sees Damon delve deeper into his leaders’ secrets. This makes for gripping viewing despite the fact it is slightly predictable. Having said that, if you are a fan of the high octane thrills that Damon and Greengrass delivered so well in The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum then you will not be disappointed as Green Zone both begins and ends with trademark hand-held camera action. The climactic chase through seemingly endless alleyways perhaps goes on slightly too long but it nevertheless produces excitement and shock. Damon’s character is somewhat underwritten. It would have been nice to know of his own motives for joining the armed forces and a little bit of back-story but nevertheless he is a good hero to follow through the film. It is Gleeson and Greg Kinnear (as a high-up opponent to Gleeson and Damon’s conspiracy theories) however, who provide the strong performances that help make Green Zone a thought-provoking political drama as well as just an action blockbuster.

  • One of the leading contemporary filmmakers of the last decade, Paul Greengrass’ directorial consistency is quite remarkable. He alternates between making crowd pleasers and critically-acclaimed pictures, and still manages to put a distinctive stamp onto each.

    The evidence is there for all to see: Bloody Sunday (2002), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), United 93 (2006), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), and now Green Zone.
    His courage to tackle controversial issues has been rewarded with a directing Oscar nomination (United 93) and a Golden Bear win (Bloody Sunday) in Berlin.

    His latest release, Green Zone, is the closest the British director has come to making a controversial crowd pleaser, merging the two sides of his filmmaking style in a bid to expand his range. The result is an excellent film but his range remains limited to his trademark “Greengrass” style – kinetic visuals shot in shaky cam and viscerally edited to give a nauseous, you-are-there kind of experience – one which he still does ever so expertly.

    The director’s trademark style when coupled to John Powell’s strong rhythmic music creates a unique brand of action-suspense, allowing us to be engaged in a trance-like state. The screenplay breaks down its seemingly complex plot into digestible pieces of information and throws in stereotypical characters like a probing journalist and a high-ranking governmental official who tries to stop the protagonist at all costs. Viewers will find the film easy to follow but intelligent enough to be thought-provoking.

    As a Greengrass film, Green Zone does not disappoint. It is essentially a war film but with strong action-thriller elements. Set in Iraq in the context of the controversial war set forth by the Bush Administration after the 9/11 incident in 2001, the film questions the grounds in which America went to war.

    The American government had confirmed the existence of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) sites in Iraq and successfully toppled Saddam’s regime but was left in the “shit hole” when they failed to restore peace. Rumors that the reason of WMD was a fabricated lie to get US military forces into Iraq and using it as a base to democratize Middle East were proven to be more true than false.

    This sets up the plot of Green Zone which centers on Officer Miller’s (Matt Damon) personal mission to expose these lies after his team is unable to find WMD in sites reported by intelligence to contain them. “The reasons we go to war always matter,” says Miller. He is smart and tactical; he is like Jason Bourne but in military disguise. His statement brings out the essence of Greengrass’ film, which questions the ethical behavior of the US government and puts the blame entirely on them.

    Green Zone shares similar traits to Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar-winning bomb squad drama The Hurt Locker but goes one further by incorporating political themes. While the latter is a nerve-wreck of a cinematic experience about soldiers in constant life-and-death situations, Greengrass’ film resonates more strongly because it insists on asking why these soldiers are there in the first place. The answer could not have been any clearer.

    GRADE: B+

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