Green Zone is a good movie, but it should have been a great movie. That’s essentially my review in 13 words, but for form’s sake, let’s expand. Green Zone tells the story of a Chief Warrant Officer who is heading up teams searching for WMDs in Iraq following the fall of Baghdad in March 2003. He’s not finding any. Caught inbetween the stark situation on the ground, the absurd disconnect of the administration’s infighting, and his conscience battling his duty, the CWO tries to find the truth behind the intel that lead us to war.
This isn’t a political blog, so I’m not going to rant about my particular views surrounding the Iraqi War. I am stunned that so few movies are being made about the focal point of global conflict. A war that’s lasted over seven years is largely forgotten by mainstream America, and for all their talk of activism, where are the Hollywood statement pictures? Green Zone starts off as one and the first 30-40 minutes are an extremely powerful look at the chaos and insanity in Baghdad after the city was taken. Matt Damon does a great job disappearing into his role, leading a squad played by actual soldiers and veterans (many of whom shot the film while inbetween deployments to the Gulf theatre). However, then the movie turns into a rather standard thriller that just happens to be set in Iraq, and the impact of the beginning makes a brief return at the end, but by then the film has lost it’s potential to be a powerful look into something most Americans seem all too willing to forget. I expect better from Paul Greengrass after films like United 93, and I’ve heard that there was a lot of studio meddling and fuss over the budget. The film also got delayed six months before release, which is usually a sign that there were problems.
I don’t mean it to sound like Green Zone isn’t worth seeing. Matt Damon, Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaacs, and Greg Kinnear give great performances and Paul Greengrass, even when off the top of his game, still delivers an entertaining movie. But this movie had a chance to be a lot more than merely entertaining and I wish it had lived to it’s potential.