In Theaters: Green Zone

Movieline Score: 7

Late into Green Zone, Paul Greengrass's gratifying if slightly garbled Hollywood treatment of the first months of the Iraq war, George Bush makes his inevitable appearance, in a clip pulled from the "Mission Accomplished" debacle. The only actual player to appear in a film filled with coy doppelgangers, Bush's visage caused a strange response to roll through the audience -- not boos or hisses but a low, mortified, neck-rolling groan. It was the kind of reaction provoked, perhaps, by the far away memory of an ill-advised seafood buffet: major buzz-kill.

Has enough time passed, already, that derision for Bush has dulled to a foggy murmur of disapproval? Has enough time passed, finally, for the horrific fraudulence of the Iraq war to be satisfyingly dramatized on screen? Relying both on the public's failing memory and the potentially galvanizing effect of horning true events into familiar genre constraints, Greengrass walks the line connecting those two questions with unusually savvy political and directorial instincts. The result is a film whose narrative impact is matched (and then, somewhat unfortunately, outpaced) by its stylistic and entertainment imperatives.

"The intel isn't right," says U.S. warrant officer Miller (Matt Damon), after completing the third raid of a reported Baghdad WMD site, one month into the war, that has turned up nothing but toilet parts and pigeon shit. It's a statement he repeats at least half a dozen times in the film's first 15 minutes, and it's all you really need to know about The Green Zone's record-straightening agenda. Miller's stubborn objections draw the attention of the Pentagon (in the supercilious form of Greg Kinnear), the CIA (a grizzled operative played by Brendan Gleeson), and the press (a Wall Street Journal reporter played by Amy Ryan). Within this quadrangle of protocol, puppetry, and independent prerogative, Greengrass sets up an investigation of the war's genesis and the botch that led to the disastrous insurgency.

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  • JAB says:

    Y'all nailed the review with the words "a bloody good ride". This Greengrass's 5th straight unqualified smash.
    I read the book by Chadrasekaran, loved it but didn't expect much of it to make it up on screen -- the book is a must read but is basically plotless & not made to be a movie.
    Even though GREEN ZONE is fiction it has a lot of the factual book in it. I was shocked, but then again this is Greengrass working with another excellent screewriter.
    As far as the criticisms about his camera movement go I say don't get on the bloody rollercoaster if you get motion sickness. He is, without a doubt, the best action director working & the adrenaline stimulates your brain too.
    However if you believe anything broadcast on FOX News then avoid this film like Rush Limbaugh's medicine cabinet & pantry. You won't like what you find.