In the year of 2003, in the setting of Iraq, we meet Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) who just wants to do his job. This job is leading his crew to the sights given to him and finding Weapons of Mass Destruction and disabling them. When we catch up with Chief Miller he has risked his life, the life of his men, in addition to the lives of his colleagues to uncover yet another abandoned toilet factory. Chief Miller has had enough of this nonsense and need answers and thus director Paul Greengrass’ fictional depiction of the launch of the war in Iraq, ‘Green Zone’, has its basis for its tale as it picks little pieces of truth here and there to tell a story that ends up being a very entertaining action thriller.
It is clear to Chief Miller that the intelligence he’s been given is not just faulty but flat incorrect and he needs to know where this intel is coming from. His superiors inform Miller, and correctly I might add, that his job is to execute orders and not question the origins of these orders, so its off to another site to dig holes searching for WMD’s which look like they might not actually exist. Then Chief Miller gets a visit from a concerned Iraqi national who calls himself Freddy (Khalid Abdalla), who informs him that some big meeting is going on and that some of the major players that the Multi-National Forces are searching for, could very well be at this location. Even though these are not his orders, off Chief Miller goes to see what the dealio is.
Sure enough at this location is General Alwari (Yigal Naor), the Jack of Clubs, and Miller and crew were this close to bringing him in. But intrigue abounds. There is a reporter (Amy Ryan) who broke the story on the WMD’s based on critical info from high ranking government official Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear). The reporter just wants to meet the secret government informant known as ‘Magellan’ to support her reporting but Magellan is always unavailable. There’s also this CIA dude (Brendan Gleeson) who is at odds with Poundstone over his methods and thinks something is definitely wrong with the WMD scenario, but is getting no answers in addition to getting cop blocked whenever he searches for these answers.
The reporter knows something is wrong, the CIA cat knows something is wrong and once Miller gets his ass kicked by one of those Black Water type goons (Jason Isaac) for not giving him something he pulled off one of those guys during their impromptu raid, he knows something is clearly wrong and now it’s time to uncover the truth and blow the lid off this sucker. History will tell us that the lid will eventually be blown off this sucker but it will matter very little because what’s done is done.
I enjoyed ‘Green Zone’ as a form of motion picture entertainment. If you take the story this film tells as a work of fiction, the fact that it pulls out what we know as truth today, that being that WMD's do not exist, and then works backwards from there to construct a narrative to create some support for this well known truth, I think most will be okay with the way that this story is told. Matt Damon was very good in this movie, considering this is kind of what the actor does now and as such he has this thing down pretty good and there’s plenty of action to go along with our revised historical intrigue.
But despite the fact I enjoyed watching this movie you are required to set a lot of things aside. For instance Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller is like the worst soldier ever. To call Warrant Officer Miller insubordinate is being kind. If command tells you to keep quiet, you keep quiet. If command tells you to dig holes, you dig holes. If some random guy tells you Saddam Hussein is down the street while you’re in the middle of executing a command, you call it in. If command tells you to blow up an elementary school full of kids, then you are morally obligated to question command while fully aware that you face court martial for doing so. But this soldier’s behavior was treated as completely acceptable with no real ramifications. There was a point in this movie where Miller was actually choosing whose orders to follow. Worst. Solider. Ever.
Once you accept the complete disregard for the Chain of Command, then you have to buy into the fact, as it is given to us in this movie, that one single person is behind the WMD fiasco and the decision to go to war. In my idealistic world that I still maintain some naiveté, I would like to believe that this is impossible.
Then there’s Paul Greengrass and his ‘shaky camera’. He gets a lot of grief for his Shaky Camera and while I had no problem with it in this movie for his daytime action scenes but in his final tour de force nighttime action shoot out I had no earthly clue what was going on visually. Because I was paying attention to the movie I was able to decipher, with reasonable accuracy, what theoretically was going on before me, but actually seeing this and making heads or tails of this was a challenge.
But all that being said I did enjoy the movie for what it was, this being a taut action thriller. There are caveats to this enjoyment, without a doubt, but if you can get past those, and believe me this isn’t that easy, then there is entertainment value in the ‘Green Zone’.