Friday, 19 March 2010
Green Zone opens with Baghdad under attack as the war begins. Huge explosions rip through the city as a General scrambles to gather all of his things, including a diary, before escaping.
A quick cut to four weeks later launches us straight into the heart of Roy Miller’s job in Iraq – hunting for WMDs in areas where there is looting and snipers. It’s breathless and highly charged and it feels like before you’ve had a chance to settle in, the first contact, and disappointment for Miller, is over. You’ll need to pay attention here as dialogue is delivered at the speed of men who know what they are talking about, have done it many times before and are in no way trying to make it simple for the average person to follow.
These opening scenes quickly demonstrate the pace most of this film is going to come at you. People speak, listen and respond. There’s no repeating of something hard to understand in simpler form, you need to keep up with what is being said.
When Miller and his crew – a sadly under-characterised group of men whom we never get to know – are working on another clearly fruitless lead an Iraqi named Freddy informs them of a secret meeting.
When they act on this information this is where things start to get murky. From the appearance of the Delta team and the machinations of the various CIA agents working to opposite agendas, Green Zone doesn’t have any clean answers for most of its running time.
There is a slight sag in pace in the middle of the film as the flesh is laid on the bones of the secret, but then we head into the finale and the action ramps fully into gear.
The director, Paul Greengrass, seems to have learnt a bit more about shooting action since The Bourne Ultimatum as he keeps his distance from the action while filming in shakey-cam, meaning you can actually tell what’s going on most of the time.
As Miller Matt Damon is in nearly every scene and carries the film on the back of his performance. Miller comes across as a decent man, a professional soldier who has doubts about those leading him but faith in his own men.
And apart from Miller, there are no real stand out characters. Because all of the focus is on him we get very little chance to know anything about the people helping or opposing him. The exception to this is Freddy, his Iraqi interpreter, who lends a voice to the Iraqi people in his simple determination to just survive for now so that he can rebuild his country, which he loves.
The ending feels a little too much of a wish fulfilment, as we all know the events it portrays did not happen. Perhaps a few years down the line, when viewers who were too young to really know about what happened see it, it won’t be so jarring.
All in all it’s a solidly put together film. It’s no stand out and not one I’m in a rush to see again, but would probably watch it the opportunity presented itself.
For the action sequences, I say it’s worth a watch, for the story, worth a go, for the lack of real characterisation, probably worth a view if it’s on TV or someone lends you the DVD.