April 1, 2010

W.M.D.: The Weapon of Matt Damon

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When it comes to W.M.D. (Weapons of Mass Destruction), every good soldier should ask one question: W.W.M.D.D.? (What would Matt Damon do?) Answer: Kick ass and take names. The explosive drama Green Zone explores the controversial topic of the U.S. search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the threat that legally justified war with Iraq in 2003.

In this action flick, Damon dons a buzz cut and the traditional army green as Roy Miller, a fiery Chief Warrant Officer in the U.S. army. He and his unit are responsible for uncovering the weapons of mass destruction that are allegedly hidden somewhere in the titular Green Zone of Baghdad. However, after several fruitless anonymous tips from a captured Iraqi officer, ironically code-named Magellan, Miller is overwrought with the notion that the army is receiving faulty and unreliable intelligence.

With a little prompting from the CIA bureau chief, Miller begins to see that the facts don’t seem to add up surrounding the intel. Fighting convention, Miller begins to question his superior officers and embarks on his own rogue investigation with a little help from a local Iraqi, “Freddie,” who is played by Khalid Abdalla (The Kite Runner). On his quest to debunk the controversy behind the flawed intelligence, Miller discovers a whole new realm of deception, lies and corruption within the U.S. government.

Inspiration for Green Zone came from the 2006 non-fiction novel Imperial Life in the Emerald City, which was written by Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Without taking a stance on the war, the novel gives an impartial and insightful look into what was going on in the Green Zone in Baghdad after the United States invaded the nation.

Director Paul Greengrass manipulates the confusion and public shock that resulted from the lack of chemical weapons in Iraq following the U.S. invasion that was prompted by the threat of said weapons. This public outcry creates the perfect backdrop for an action thriller. The film is further complicated by the themes of distrust in the government and the question of authority that arose during the occupation of Baghdad in 2003.

With the exception of A-lister Matt Daman, the cast is composed entirely of lesser-known actors that come together to create an intriguing mystery that corroborates the ideas initially set forth in Chandraekaran’s novel.

Harry Potter’s Mad-Eye Moody, Brendan Gleeson, portrays Martin Brown, a CIA bureau chief stationed in Baghdad, who acts as a mentor of sorts to Miller’s quest to uncover the truth behind the war and the chemical weapons.

Greg Kinnear (As Good as It Gets) takes on the role of Clark Poundstone, the shifty and overly arrogant leading officer of the Pentagon Special Intelligence in Baghdad, who serves to fuel the disillusionment in the government’s actions.

Further adding to the commotion and chaos of war and the lack of progress in uncovering the weapons in the Iraqi desert is the fantastically annoying Wall Street journalist Lawrie Dayne, portrayed by Amy Ryan.

Old hats in the world of fast-paced, action thrillers, director Greengrass and Daman, come together again forGreen Zone. In the past the two have collaborated on the block-buster hits, The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Supremacy.

Green Zone is raw to say the least. The plot line is rather singular and predictable, and the editing leaves something to be desired. The film jumps around quite a bit; the juicy, dramatic scenes are thrilling, but they are few and far between. The film mostly consists of Daman running from place to place with very little flow and coherency.

Nevertheless, to its credit Green Zone is a great exposition of the tension-filled atmosphere that surrounded in war in Iraq. It’s a brilliant exposition of the disconnect between the truth and the army’s intelligence, two things that typically go hand-in-hand. The film also explores the contention between the U.S. army stationed in Iraq and the government officials in Washington, whose mushrooming problems were only further increased by the pushy and aggressive journalists, eager to snatch up any piece of a story. Green Zone combines fact and fiction in a frenzied action film.

3 Towers

Original Author: Heather McAdams