If you loved the Bourne Ultimatum, then you’ll be in heaven with Green Zone. It features the same Director, Actor, the same style – handheld, shaky cam, close-ups and dramatic pans all of which make the action so frenetic. It also has a similar feel in terms of the mistrust of Government and one man fighting to reveal a conspiracy.
Based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s Imperial Life in the Emerald City. The book details the aftermath of the war as the reconstruction is orchestrated from the Green Zone in Baghdad and the mismanagement and surrealism that took place from within the Green Zone.
Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) is part of a unit assigned to find Saddam’s WMDs. After coming up short at a site, Miller begins to question the intelligence, catching the attention of CIA agent Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) and journalist Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan), both of whom share his doubts and frustrations. As Miller is co-opted into Brown’s operations, he comes up against Pentagon Intelligence agent, Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) and Lt.Col. Briggs (Jason Isaacs), who have machinations of his own with regards to the dismantling of the Iraqi army.
The politics are nothing new (most people accept there were no WMD’s and believe they were lied to) and it bears little relation to the details of the book outside of a few scenes – pool-parties and shindigs with all mod-cons and a healthy supply of Domino’s pizza, beer and sexy bikini clad State Department officials. Perhaps it could have been a comedy of exceedingly bad taste but it is a thriller and as a thriller it works brilliantly.
It’s taut and Greengrass keeps the action flowing smoothly. It barrels along at a fair pace from the get go, only relenting during the middle in order to build up momentum for the second half which increases the pressure brilliantly during a night time chase.
It’s tightly plotted and exciting to watch. Matt Damon is on top form in his trademarked square-jawed hero, Greg Kinnear is brilliant as an arrogant Intelligence agent and Jason Isaac’s is genuinely menacing as he dashes through Baghdad after Damon.
Overall, the film has a feeling of verisimilitude achieved by using realistic language, real life soldiers and using Morocco for exteriors. To top it off, the cinematography is fantastic, giving it a feel to The Hurt Locker… which isn’t a surprise as this film shares the same cinematographer, Barry Ackroyd. As soon as I saw his name it all made sense. Both Ackroyd and Greengrass have managed to capture, what to my mind, looks like a realistic take on post-invasion Baghdad, with dust in the air, rubble strewn streets, looters pillaging anything and everything and Saddam’s palaces being used as barracks. As a result it feels realistic.
All of the elements fitted together to make an enjoyable film. Highly recommended.