Written by Films

Green Zone

Green Zone is the latest film from Paul Greengrass and his team. And by team, I don’t just mean Matt Damon. He’s clearly assembled together a very tight group of people who work with him. There’s cinematographer Barry Ackroyd who worked on United 93, composer John Powell who worked on that and all the Bourne films, and especially, editor Christopher Rouse who edited both Greengrass’s Bourne films and United 93 again.
Green Zone is presented as a thriller in which Matt Damon’s team are sent into Iraq in the early part of 2003 post invasion, to neutralise the threat of WMDs in locations already highlighted by intelligence reports. He quickly discovers that these reports aren’t worth the “packets” they’re written on, and questions the source.
This isn’t something that the Pentagon official, Greg Kinnear, is particular eager to hear. So instead he goes to CIA operative Brendon Gleeson who is more responsive to his concerns. That’s not the prevailing view.
In the meantime, Kinnear has a team of US special forces led by Jason Isaacs who seem to be getting in the way of things.
Oddly, this must be the first Iraq set drama in which, after a while at least, you don’t believe that there are snipers and insurgents around every corner and that Damon’s team might get it at any moment. That’s probably because it is set in the early days of the conflict, with the film suggesting that had another approach been taken, making use of the Iraqi army rather than disbanding them (and all their years of training and action), a more peaceful settlement might have taken place.
There are some lovely set-pieces like the scene set in the tranquil oasis of the Green Zone where various high ranking officials enjoy a beverage at the pool-side in one of Saddam’s palaces. It seems to be more like a Vegas hotel than a warzone. Then there’s the incredible stash of money that Gleeson’s CIA team have at its disposable – millions of dollars sealed in plastic and piled up on the floor in the corner of the room.
Amy Ryan plays a journalist who works for the Wall Street Journal and begins to realise that she’s been led astray by her sources who let her publish evidence that was simply untrue.
Overall, a great film. It would have been nicer for the plot to have had one or two more twists, but that’d have made it unrealistic, whereas as it stands, it’s incredibly believable. That’s not surprising since it’s based on the reminiscence’s of Rajiv Chandrasekaran.
Quite why certain reviewers – and yes, Peter Bradshaw, I’m talking about you – have rated it so poorly, I simply fail to understand. It’s well worth seeing.
One nice touch I noticed is that along with The Guardian, one of whose journalist Greengrass has previously killed in a Bourne film, a report at the end of the film is also emailed to Panorama. Sadly, it can’t be emailed to Greengrass’s “alma mater”, World in Action, because that programme no longer exists on a 21st century ITV. So instead its long time rival would have got this particular scoop.