Purveyors of the news for the past nine years know what constitutes a "green zone": Security from suicide bombers, infiltrators, craziness of an unvetted variety, and control over troublemakers of foreign and local variety, initially probably in Iraq (now metastasizing into other war theatres). The new Greengrass, who gave us the crackling good adventure-actioners in the BOURNE canon, has done it again. Greengrass' filmography includes The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) (Germany); United 93 (2006); The Bourne Supremacy (2004); and Bloody Sunday (2002), among others in a distinguished writing, directing and scripting career. The only problem is that this is so good, so fast, so all-around-diverting that it won't have the cachet of a brand new genre come next March Academy Awards night, since THE HURT LOCKER just swept the Oscars with six golden statuettes, and the Academy probably can't risk giving the prize win to a 'war film' two years in a row. Which is a damned shame. No bummed-out Babs Streisand scowling in the middle distance in '11.

Matt Damon does a tight, riveting, subtle turn as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller in Iraq in 2004, serving under maximal stress and constant turf battles against such peacock-aggrandizers as smarmy Pentagon wonk, Greg Kinnear, who (as Clark Poundstone) wants results at all costs, no matter their veracity. Brendan Gleeson, the magnificent Irish actor, turns in a pitch-perfect perf as the Sunni- and Shi'a-hound CIA detail man who wants the practical results that will produce lasting Iraqi peace and sanity, not fleeting WMD glory. The sole female figure is a revenant who, unlike brunette Judith Miller working for the NY Times, is here blonde (Amy Ryan, playing Lawrie Dayne) and working for the Wall Street Journal. Both newsies get info they perhaps too-easily swallow.

The plot, which is challenging to hear and see amid the blur of action and overlapping dialogue and split-hair edits and cross-cutting: Discovering covert but consistently faulty intel converts a solid U.S. Army Captain to go rogue as he hunts for Weapons of Mass Destruction in an unstable region. Miller thinks there's a stinkweed in DC misdirecting all his crew's efforts, wasting their time digging in ludicrous places and uncovering innocuous toilet factories planktoned in pigeon poo. Turf battles with home office, Kinnear and parachuted-in fake Iraqi puppet masters interfere with and clash with the maddening unknown of which locals can be trusted, which cannot. Mistakes result in families being wiped out-or US Armed Services personnel buying it. Filmed in Spain, morocco and the US, the film has the gritty feel LOCKER has, the narrow alleyways, the impassive faces of the ex-Saddam Army, all of whom turn in excellent portraits of proud, fearless, passionate (if nuanced-loyalty) soldiers.

Testosterone rises right out of your seat into your chest as Damon chases leads to what's what in WMD. It's not a blatant play for partisan hoorah! Either. One rides along in the Humvee or military transport with heart racing and knuckles clenched.

Green Zone
gets a bright green light from this seat.





Speak your mind

4 Comments so far

  1. Steve Leslie on March 11, 2010 9:45 am

    Political misgivings not withstanding, Matt Damon has become THE icon in Action films. If he is as good in this movie as he was in The Bourne trilogy, he will cement his standing as the most powerful actor of the last decade. It is a real joy to watch him work. I am dying to see Inglourious Basterds now that I know what the hell the movie is all about. Had Tarantino named it something else I would have embraced it sooner. Please feel free to be my friend on Facebook.

  2. spekulatn on March 11, 2010 5:20 pm

    Damon would get a hug and a kiss from Babs, methinks.
    Mr. Kyle Smith does a proper job here:

    “Green Zone,” opening Friday, is a $100 million slime job that conjures up a fantastically distorted leftist version of the war and wraps it around a frantic but preposterous action picture. (Spoilers about the plot follow.)

    Read more:

  3. Steve Leslie on March 12, 2010 10:50 am

    I noticed the local cinema is showing the Hurt Locker,The Green Zone, The Blind Side, Crazy Heart, Avatar. This is a shameless attempt to make money off the Academy Awards which were recently doled out. Gasp and in America also.

    That Said, for my money, this is in order of movies that I would pay to see.

    Crazy Heart: Jeff Bridges gives the performance of a lifetime.

    The Blind Side: It just makes you feel good.

    Avatar: The most profound special effects or CGI or whatever you want to call it ever.

    The Hurt Locker: Curiosity as to whether it is as good as the awards indicate.

    The Green Zone: Matt Damon nuf said!!!!!

    Best of the rest: Julie and Julia Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci Great actors and great teammates better here than in
    The Devil Wears Prada and they were pretty damn good in that one.

    Inglourious Basterds: Christopher Waltz stands alone as one who could have played that role.

  4. vic niederhoffer on March 15, 2010 9:40 pm

    I saw this movie based on the review and to me it was a terrible piece of propaganda mixed in with hackneyed war clips and chase scenes and pseudo patriotic, Zacharian, "your own man" said you were cheating that made everything anti-American look good and could have been funded by the enemy and upheld the idea that has the world in its grip in every way. Amazingly the reviewer is apparently against the things that this terrible picture that I wish I had walked out on after five minutes, upholds. The flat performance of the Ivy League star who looked totally effete next to real fighters added to the utter falsity of every scene and move. vic


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