Paul Greengrass’s cinematic deconstruction (and destruction) of the reasons why the US went to war in Iraq.
For me, Paul Greengrass fell from favour more than a little with his previous film, The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – after the slick, high-pitched excitement of The Bourne Supremacy (2004), the gritty, hand-held, POV, faux-documentary approach did not sit well at all with an action franchise drawing favourable comparisons with Bond.
But there’s no doubting Greengrass’s skill and sincerity, as the remarkably powerful United 93 (2006) and Bloody Sunday (2002) proved so well. He’s obviously a director who does his homework – and that’s why Green Zone (2010), coupled with the fact that its doc-drama format is once again perfectly suited to its subject matter, is a real return to form.
Matt Damon, who clearly has an excellent relationship going with the British helmsman, plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, who’s in the field following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. He and his men are charged with finding the much touted weapons of mass destruction, whose purported existence provided President George W. Bush with the only excuse he and Tony Blair needed for US and UK involvement. Trouble is, the intelligence on which Miller is acting is proving completely unreliable – and after a third raid on a target that’s cited as being a WMD ‘hot’ spot turns up nothing, Miller starts to do his own research.
Trouble is, that brings him into direct conflict with the Pentagon’s man in Baghdad, Clark Poundstone (an excellent, creepy Greg Kinnear), who tells him to keep his nose out. But, when veteran CIA operative Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) tells Miller that he believes there are no weapons, there’s no turning back for Miller. Someone’s telling fibs, and I think we all know who, right?
Based as it is on the account by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, and tersely, tensely adapted by Brian Helgeland, it is of course impossible to say where truth ends and fabrication begins in Greengrass’s gripping, provocative film. However, what is not in any doubt is that deception on a huge scale was perpetrated concerning Iraq, and that it’s a sign of a healthier society that we are able to ask questions of our leaders’ actions early.
The US isn’t done apologizing for Iraq yet – and that’s a good thing. Check the case for the prosecution in a movie that manages to be intelligent, incisive and damn exciting.