Green Zone is the latest thriller from actor/director duo Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon, who previously worked together on The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. The Green Zone, also known as "the bubble", is a 3.8 square-mile patch of Baghdad, Iraq that's considered the safest area of the city. Notice that I wrote "safest" and not "safe", as the movie shows that it clearly isn't.
The movie takes place during the reconstruction of Iraq, shortly after Saddam's capture. It's inspired by the non-fiction book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, which takes a close look at both the reconstruction and the Coalition Provisional Authority, the transitional government that acted as authority in Iraq before the new Iraqi government was established.
I have never been to Iraq, so I can't say whether the movie's portrayal of Baghdad is authentic or not. Given that its inspired by a non-fiction book written by The Washington's Post Baghdad bureau chief, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and guess that it is.
What I can attest to, however, is the palpable fear present in the movie. This is a scary, unpredictable place where simply being out in the open puts you on edge. This atmosphere is achieved thanks to many things, namely Paul Greengrass's volatile directing and Matt Damon's believable performance as Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, a man who has long since learned to deal with the ways of this world. He no longer fears the dangers around him, he simply navigates through them. And special mention goes to Jason Isaacs as Major Briggs, a man with such impassive attachment to his job that he doesn't even blink when he's ordered to do awful things. Very rarely do I hate antagonists with such vitriol.
The plot centers around the much-publicized search for weapons of mass destruction, with Brian Helgeland's screenplay so expertly weaving together fact and fiction, that I briefly wondered if I had somehow missed a massive development in the news.
After finding another empty site where a WMD should have been, Damon's Roy Miller questions the intel that they've been receiving and ultimately questions the existence of the weapons at all. There are ideas presented here that may or may not be true, and the truth of the matter will probably never fully emerge, but in the context of the movie, it's gripping.
Some may say that this is a movie with an agenda, but I disagree. The screenwriter, Brian Helgeland, is a not a man with a resume of politically charged works. This is not a subtle allegory. The ideas are bold and freely explored, showing that fimmakers have no ulterior motive. Their cards are on the table. It feels more like "this is what a lot of people suspect happened, and this is how it could've played out." Yes, the story toys with the notion that we went to war based on a lie. But this a work of fiction. It's realistic, emotional, and intense, but a work of fiction all the same. If you remove it from reality, and view it in a vaccuum, it's still an amazing movie.
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