Director Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon team up once again for the tense action-thriller Green Zone. The film struggled to achieve the same box office success of the prior Greengrass/Damon pairings on two films from the Bourne trilogy but that shouldn’t put you off what is an enjoyable wartime thriller.
Damon plays Roy Miller, a U.S. Army officer stationed in Iraq in 2003 during the height of the Iraq War. After completing several missions involving the search for weapons of mass destruction with faulty intelligence, Miller begins to question where the information is coming from and the reliability of the source. This line of questioning leads him down a dangerous path that involves competing members of the Special Forces, Pentagon, and CIA set against the backdrop of an Iraq that’s on the tipping point of civil war and renewed conflict against the American forces.
Much has been made of the political nature of Green Zone. It deals with the controversial topic of WMDs and their use as justification for a war on Iraq. There were a few times when the script seemed to benefit from its ability to look back at the events that have taken place. Miller asks some poignant questions about the intelligence provided, the justification given for the war, and the way America’s actions will be perceived by the world.
While the political undercurrent is there it largely adds to the plot instead of taking away from it. Damon plays the rather inquisitive and morally just Roy Miller well, never taking him into the realm of the stereotypical action hero and instead tries to make him believable within the military backdrop provided. Greg Kinnear and Brendan Gleeson do a good job of portraying Clark Poundstone (Pentagon) and Martin Brown (CIA), heads of their respective agencies in Iraq, and it’s the competing nature of these two characters and their struggles to one-up each other which really helps sell the film as a thriller. Greengrass makes the smart decision to avoid the claim that this film is based on true events and instead just uses the situation in Iraq as a backdrop for a sort of "what if" situation. The story could have just as easily played out in another country but by placing it in Iraq it gives the audience something to chew on once all is said and done.