Oscar winner Matt Damon consistently impresses with nuanced, intelligent performances, even when the material declines to offer any real challenge to his gifts as an actor. Case in point: Green Zone (StudioCanal/Relativity Media), a sporadically intense but inconsistent suspense thriller set during the pointless US War on Iraq that thankfully keeps the political dialogue at a minimum – while blending fact with fiction. Along with co-stars Meg Ryan (as a sly Wall Street Journal reporter) and Greg Kinnear (as a sinister Pentagon big-wig), Damon re-teams here with director Paul Greengrass (Bourne Ultimatum) for his role as Roy Miller, a strong-willed US soldier sent with the troops to find weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in the Middle Eastern country. (We all know how that turned out).
When his search keeps coming up empty, Miller gets frustrated and decides to go after the truth. Like Damon’s Miller, viewers are pulled into a violent zone of conflict that builds in intensity and is heavily marked by explosive activities. Greengrass (United 93) seems drawn to stories riddled with conspiracy, as well as those that highlight key events in US history, and with Green Zone he continues this trend, though with less flattering results. Given the flawed outcome, Green Zone doesn’t come close to Greengrass’ (nor Damon’s) finest work – nor is it as engrossing as The Hurt Locker, the Oscar-winning film considered the best film ever made about the war in Iraq.
MARRIAGE IS NO VACATION
Though bordering on melodrama, Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? (Lionsgate) might satisfy its core audience with its heady mix of occasionally intense drama and side-splitting humour – more or less the Tyler Perry trademark. Marriage, commitment, infidelity, trust, and grief are important themes examined in this sequel, which re-introduces us to four couples (Janet Jackson/Malik Yoba; Jill Scott/Lamman Rucker; Tasha Smith/Michael Jai White; and Sharon Leal/Perry) who’ve maintained a close friendship for years. They take an annual vacation (this time to the spectacular Bahamas) to celebrate their unions and reflect on their relationships. But this getaway soon becomes anything but relaxing when an uninvited guest (Richard T. Jones) shows up, tension mounts, secrets start tumbling out of the closet, and the cracks in everybody’s love life begin to show.
The film, which also features cameo appearances from Cicely Tyson and Louis Gossett Jr, as a friendly elderly couple, periodically descends into sermonizing (a trap Perry films seem unable to avoid), but the process of ultimately getting to the surprising climax is a frequently moving, entertaining experience. A stunning performance from Jackson adds to the benefits of seeing Perry’s latest release, which also delivers traces of the writer-director’s wicked wit and capacity for holding up a mirror to African-American society.