If Green Zone didn’t come from the director and star of The Bourne Supremacy then you’d never think that it would be as riveting as it is. The reason? The stupid title.
There’s nothing interesting about ‘Green Zone’ to draw people to the theatre. Does it refer to some kind of land area, a state of mind, or an environmental policy?
Sadly, it’s the first choice but it’s barely even mentioned in the dialogue and I had to resort to the fount of all obscure knowledge — the Internet — to fully understand. Green Zone only denotes the International Zone of Iraq, the former centre of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the seat of Saddam Hussein’s famous palace. That’s it. It’s a lot like what would happen if you were to change the name of a film like Bloody Sunday (the one that put Paul Greengrass on the map) and retitled it The First Day of the Week. Whitewash would have been a more compelling name for this conspiracy thriller.
If you can look past this miscalculation and forego the actual lack of information about the story in the trailers then you just might land yourself in this really fascinating movie inspired by a book of non-fiction. Matt Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, the head of an inspection team checking out possible weapons of mass destruction sites in 2003. The problem is that the intelligence is faulty and they never discover even a single chemical agent, weapon or anything, not a single radioactive click on the Geiger counter. All Miller learns is that there’s something rotten in the Middle East.
Miller bounces around like a pinball between two sides of his own government, represented by a high-ranking foreign affairs type named Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear), and Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), a Central Intelligence Agency flunky who knows that two-plus-two doesn’t equal three. With the benefit of a random Iraqi with a heart of gold and a Wall Street Journal reporter, Miller eventually learns the truth about a massive spinning cover-up that turns everything upside down.
I’m a big fan of Greengrass’ last two Bourne movies with Damon. They have great frenetic energy, handheld video camera reality and some fantastic action sequences. Kinnear goes against his good guy typecasting by delving into the character of a manipulative politico. It reminded me a lot of Alan Alda being the surprise baddy at the end of Murder at 1600 or even the supremely cheesy Whispers in the Dark. Damon practically walks through his scenes, but he walks with purpose so you don’t really notice that he has completely phoned this one in.
Regardless, don’t be dissuaded by a bland title. This is a tight little actioner that keeps you on the edge of your seat as it demands your attention by weaving through a complex maze of red tape, black ops and whitewash in the Green Zone.
Directed by: Paul Greengrass<br />Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, Yigal Naor, Khalid Abdalla and Amy Ryan<br />Now playing at: Grandin Theatres. Cineplex North Edmonton, Westmount Centre Cinemas, and Scotiabank Theatre<br />Rated: 14A<br />Stars: 3.5