What is Green Zone? Is the latest collaboration between filmmaker Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon an extension of their Bourne franchise with a bit more topicality? Or is it, due to the aforementioned Iraq War relevance, a companion piece to Greengrass’ phenomenal United 93?
This adaptation of Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone follows Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon) as he and his team search for weapons of mass destruction and end up exposing a massive and damaging cover-up that, while fictionalized here, feels like non-fiction with a heaping dose of action heroics thrown into the mix for good measure.
Greengrass drops audiences in the Zone right away and barely pauses for breath as Miller’s mission and allegiances shift on the fly. How can it be that the army gets caught between the Department of Defense, spearheaded by a slickly nefarious under-secretary played by Greg Kinnear, and the Central Intelligence Agency (with Brendan Gleeson as its good-intentioned rogue agent)? The devil is in the details, and at every turn Miller comes up aces, piecing things together with more diligence than even an embedded reporter (Amy Ryan) for The Wall Street Journal.
But if this were the case, if one smart soldier could figure out the whole mess, why are we still in the muck and the mire? Greengrass’ adaptation bastardizes the truth, and in doing so loses the glorious audacity that made a film like All the President’s Men a classic expose rather than just another taut political thriller. Grade: A-