When Barbara Streisand said, “Well… the time has come,” at this year’s Oscar’s, I don’t think she was referring to the fact that a woman had finally won Best Director. I believe she meant that The Hurt Locker has successfully ruined the war film genre, as in: “The time has come for you to do better.”
Let’s face it: we should give every movie a fair chance, but before the most recent Best Picture winner, there was not a single great Iraq War film. And I suspect the same will be said in the years after The Hurt Locker’s release.
Green Zone is just boring, plain and simple. Which is odd, given its talented director, motivated star and plentiful action scenes. The whole movie has a CIA boys vs. Pentagon boys B-movie delivery. The plot doesn’t amount to much: Damon is a chief officer in the early stages of our current war. He’s in charge of hunting down WMD's based on intel from an anonymous source. Problem is (as we all know), Damon and his crew keep coming up short on finding the weapons.
Matty gets suspicious of the intel and, with a little CIA bird whispering in his ear (a wasted Brendan Gleeson) and a snoopy Wall Street Journal writer (the token female-in-a-war-movie role goes to: Amy Ryan) whispering in the other, Damon decides to go all rouge and win the war himself. Greg Kinnear shows up as a douche bag CIA suit who is basically blamed for the entire Iraq War starting in the first place. Huh?
Director Paul Greengrass is a crafty dude. He redefined the action film with his Bourne sequels and created one of the most important films of this century with United 93, but his Green Zone is as cold as ice.
Sometimes a film comes off as not very interesting because the movie is based on an issue the audience already knows to be false. For example, we all know that no WMD's were found in Iraq, so the tension, and mystery, are completely gone. However, this is a tough argument to make, because it goes both ways.
Everyone knows that the passengers of United 93 aren’t going to make it. No one expected for Greengrass to go all Tarantino on us and rewrite history. So, why does United 93 work, but Green Zone fail? I’m not too sure. It must have something to do how the film is developed and delivered. You actually felt like you were a passenger on United 93, fighting for your life. But in Green Zone, you couldn’t be more of an audience member. Checking your watch multiple times, aching for something interesting to happen. D+