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Green Zone

I hate the war in Iraq. It’s ambiguous, never-ending, divisive, thousands have died and to this day I am not sure why and I believe no one ever will. With WWII it is simple on paper: Hitler was an evil man with intentions to rule all of Europe, hence he had to be stopped. In 2003 the United-States invaded Iraq for a couple of reasons, including ties to terrorism, but mostly because of Weapons of Mass Destruction. A popular joke I kept hearing around that time was “Of course the Americans know Saddam has weapons. They kept the receipts!” Years later it seems pretty clear that whether or not receipt were kept, the WMD program was not updated by the time George W. Bush decided it was time to take down Saddam Hussein.

Green Zone begins shortly after the end of the war when Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) and his men have to fend off a sniper in order to enter a building where chemicals weapons are located, according to the latest intelligence reports. They waste their time when they put on their gas masks since there are no weapons at the location, but a lot of pigeon droppings.

Miller expresses his frustration in a room full of military officers as well as intelligence officers who assure him that the information is reliable. Well if it is, how come they keep coming up empty? He raises the attention of Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) a C.I.A man who grows more and more cynical as the United States is moving forward with the plan to completely disband the Iraqi army. He gives Miller his card which proves useful when Miller gets a lead on an Iraqi general dubbed the Ace of Clubs. Using a deck of cards to classify your enemies, doesn’t that seem a bit childish, or at the very least comic-book like? But what do I know; I’ve never been in the army.

The general (Igal Naor) becomes a McGuffin of sorts. Brown wants Miller to track him down in order to use him to control the growing hostile population. Clark Poundstone (Gregg Kinnear) a power player from Washington simply wants anyone connected with Saddam dead, but he seems especially dedicated to erasing this particular club from the deck. He too has a man in the field, Lieutenant Briggs (Jason Isaacs) who clashes with Miller and unfortunately has much more impressive modes of transportation. We first see him appear out of nowhere with three loud helicopters, Black Hawks I believe. The only thing missing was the Wagner music from Apocalypse Now.

Also in the mix is reporter Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan) who approaches Miller when Poundstone stops being helpful. In this particular version of the events leading up to the war, she is one of the top reporters who broke the news regarding the existence of Iraq’s WMD program, leading to Miller asking her why she did not double-check her facts. A question that should not be asked to just one person, but to everyone who was busy reporting on these events in the months leading up to the invasion without wondering if it was justified.

The film is directed by Paul Greengrass, who helmed the last two Jason Bourne movies and he injects the same frantic energy from those films in the action scenes. This means a lot of hand-held cameras during chases that take place in the streets of Baghdad. While providing a sense of realism, this style can be somewhat destabilising and disorienting depending on your stomach. Is it any wonder they call it queasy-cam? This is a movie where you not only have to pay attention during the dialogue scenes, but also during the action scenes or else you might lose track of who is chasing who.

If you have been paying attention during the years following the invasion, you will not learn anything new. The facts are that the United-States went into Iraq with intelligence that was dubious at best, George W. Bush jumped the gun with his “Mission Accomplished” banner, and disbanding the Iraqi army was not such a good idea after all. The cast does a good job of representing the key players in this situation. Matt Damon is a reliable leading man who can seriously kick some ass and his character rightfully demands to know why there is a disconnect between the facts on the ground and the information coming from his superiors. Gleeson and Kinnear represent the opposing ideals of the intelligence community. Gleeson wants to work with whoever it will take to stabilize the country while Kinnear wants a quick victory and sees Brown as a dinosaur. Well if by that insult he means that Brown is old, the thing about old people is that they have been around longer and therefore know more than young people. Next time, how about the arrogant young people in Washington do the world a favour and listen to the wise old people in the intelligence business. You never, it just might save a few thousand lives.

B

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