Chaotic and Disturbing
Wish I could have seen all of Green Zone, but speedy, jerky camera shots hurt my eyes, so I’m forced to close them during most sequences featuring that kind of photography – and Green Zone includes plenty of it. My husband calls this filmmaking technique “lazy cinematography,” for he believes it lacks careful attention to the choreography of action scenes. He might be right. While Matt Damon’s latest outing as a hero on an important mission evokes suspense and empathy, the movie -- as directed by Paul Greengrass -- suffers from the chaotic way it’s filmed. I realize the type of cinematography used so much here is supposed to help us feel the intensity of what’s happening, but a little of it goes a long way.
Damon portrays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, a dedicated U.S. soldier assigned to find Weapons of Mass Destruction at the beginning of the Iraq war. Because of faulty intelligence, none of the sites he and his men visit reveal evidence of the deadly WMDs. As Miller investigates this situation, he becomes more and more concerned about the information he’s been given and finally decides to take matters into his own hands. Naturally, Miller’s rogue behavior upsets U.S. officials in charge of the occupation efforts in Iraq.
During Miller’s attempts to discover the truth, he comes in contact with a distressed but helpful Iraqi citizen (Khalid Abdalla), a conceited State Department operative (Greg Kinnear), a worried journalist (Amy Ryan), a cynical C.I. A. agent (Brendan Gleeson), an eager assassin (Jason Isaacs), and a hunted Iraqi general (Yigal Naor).
Delivering a highly believable performance here, Damon makes us admire his character’s sense of right and wrong -- plus his courage to continue with a mission despite enormous obstacles. Portraying one of the biggest obstacles, Kinnear does a terrific job earning our hate for his character. Oh, how we long to see him get his comeuppance! The rest of the cast members are also fine.
However, besides the cinematography problem, Green Zone is hard to watch because it reminds us of the horrible mistakes our government has made in connection with the Iraq war. Sure, recent elections there give us a bit of hope, but the loss of lives during the election process is extremely disturbing. Based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s nonfiction book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone, the fictional film version was written by Brian Helgeland (The Order), and I can’t help wondering if the deplorable incidents depicted in the movie are a fair depiction of what actually happened.
Still, the story unfolding on screen is quite suspenseful. Nevertheless, I’m sending this message to Mr. Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) and company: “Please go easy on the speedy, jerky camera work next time.”
(Released by Universal Pictures and rated “R” for violence and language.)
For more information about this film, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.