Monday, June 21, 2010

Green Zone

Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon have been so great separately and together that they have formed a quality reputation. So there is a reasonable expectation when they have a new movie come out. Especially when it’s over a topic that needs a new creative perspective.

With Green Zone, Greengrass and Damon take us back to a few years ago when the War in Iraq was just getting underway. Damon plays Roy Miller a soldier leading his men into various locations where WMD reportedly are stored. After several empty locations, Miller speaks out against the intel. This gets the attention of a CIA officer named Martin Brown played by the always great Brendan Gleeson. This starts a series of events to figure out who is “Magellan,” the informant behind the information.

The structure of this war movie was one more like a cop drama with the detective going around the city piecing clues together. This is an interesting stance, but it plays like a forgettable cop movie. None of the characters in this movie really pop as original creations. Greg Kinnear is stuck playing the typical slimeball in a suit. Amy Ryan doesn’t have much to do as the typical reporter in this scenario who just wants the truth.

The film comes alive when they show us something new. The best scene in the movie is when Brown takes Miller to one of Saddam’s former palaces for a meeting and it’s like nothing that’s going on. Miller feels out of place as he is dressed in full combat gear while walking through the exterior of a Barbie’s Dreamhouse.

Greengrass’s handheld camera technique works well in a war setting especially when Miller and his team are moving as one. The finale ends up being one big chase scene and it is exciting, but never Bourne level of excitement.

Instead of being an intelligent take on the Iraq War, it’s too simplified and labels everybody as a good or a bad guy. Characters are speaking bluntly as if this was a summary Wikipedia entry instead of a full news report. Not everything has to be as dense as Generation Kill, but The Hurt Locker proved there are exciting stories that can be used with the backdrop.

In the bonus features, the most used word is “thriller.” Throughout the unfortunately dull commentary, Greengrass and Damon talk about how they have to do certain things because this is a thriller. It’s used as an excuse instead of an exciting possibility. There are also two featurettes that are pretty cool. Most of them are fly-on-the-wall interactions of the set that are very entertaining. Especially where you get to see Damon interact with the real life soldiers. There are also a bunch of deleted scenes with optional commentary from Greengrass.

2.5 Yaps

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