Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass have teamed up on an adaptation of Imperial Life in the Emerald City and the result is a decent political action hybrid that runs into some pretty big third act issues that really hurt the picture.
The story follows Chief Miller a WMD team leader for the Army and is coming up empty repeatedly on sites that are supposed to be legit and he begins to wonder why the hell he is over here in Iraq if there are no WMD’s. After getting a tip from a local citizen, Freddy, who sees some top officials ducking into a secret meeting, Miller, is pulled into a chain of events that might uncover one of the government’s biggest secrets about the war. Miller then starts to get pulled from both sides by a pair of clashing department heads for the White House and the CIA and he has to sort out whose intel he will believe to actually making a difference here in Iraq.
Now be warned, this is not an action movie, don’t believe what the trailer is selling. With that said, the film does move along without any dry spells and there are a number of set pieces built more around tension rather than action that will hold your attention. The characters though are paper thin with little to no depth to them and everyone is clearly playing a part. Some characters even seem completely useless, i.e. the reporter, but I won’t complain too much because their scenes didn’t drag the picture down they just didn’t do much when you look back at the picture. The film is solid, nothing amazing but quality stuff, until the third act hits and things begin to just get a bit ridiculous. The film turns into a cat and mouse game and logic gets thrown out the window and I will just leave it at that. The preachy stuff also starts to eek out at this point and the last two scenes are a bit too much if you ask me.
The actors in the film while given pretty thin roles at least do a fine job in the picture even if nobody delivers their best work. Damon is serviceable as a military man and we believe that he cares as much as Miller does, I just don’t know how believable the character is when starts to go off the reservation. This isn’t Damon’s fault though, I think his work sells the character and saves the believability of some of the bits and successfully creates an original character to add to his repertoire. Greg Kinnear plays sleazy White House rep Poundstone to a T though we have seen him in this part before. Brendan Gleeson plays one of the most reserved characters in his career but it would have been nice to have his character be a bit more illusive, but again this isn’t really his fault. Amy Ryan is completely wasted on as the journalist trying to get to Poundstone’s source on WMD’s and does nothing but help move the plot along when necessary. Jason Isaacs stars as the pseudo bad guy in the movie, a Special Forces member, and again he is serviceable but has nothing to really do other than be bad for no good reason.
In the end, Green Zone starts as a serviceable enough political thriller but runs into some issues in its third act that make it a tad forgettable. The movie is still very watchable but don’t expect anything special or new brought to the table. This isn’t the next Bourne movie like they are selling it and you can get a much better Middle East thriller out of recent entries like The Hurt Locker or Body of Lies. There isn’t a lot to be learned here as most of the facts they throw at us are common knowledge about the War and the political message is tired and been beaten to death. So if you are looking for a mildly entertaining thriller, that doesn’t have a ton of thrills and throws logic into the wind in the end game then go ahead and check out Green Zone as it is fairly safe and sterile experience.
Green Zone is a C-