From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Green Zone - B

Rated R for violence and language, 115 minutes

Intensity, relevancy highlight the action thriller "Green Zone"

The "Green Zone" refers to the International Zone of Baghdad, Iraq, or the 4-mile base of operations for the rebuilding of Baghdad that still exists today. It's also the basis of a powerful, germane political-action thriller inspired by real events starring Matt Damon and directed by Paul Greengrass, who directed him in two of the Jason Bourne movies. Some of it's a little preachy down the stretch, though the climax is thrilling enough to make you forget any of its political statements.

"Green Zone" is loosely based on the non-fiction 2006 book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran, which documented life in the Green Zone, Baghdad. Damon is Army chief warrant officer Roy Miller, who begins assisting a senior CIA official (Brendan Gleeson) in the search for Weapons of Massive Destruction (WMD). He begins to realize the whole situation isn't what it seems, though it's grand ideals are being promoted by a Pentagon Special Intelligence officer (Greg Kinnear). With the help of a high-powered journalist (Amy Ryan), he begins uncovering the truth behind the U.S. Government's claims to WMD's.

Greengrass has crafted a fine, fast-paced and complex thriller in "Green Zone" that's fascinating enough to lift it above the "Bourne in Iraq" label it exudes from its trailers. Greengrass' expert direction and Damon's solid, believable turn lift what could've been a standard, mediocre action thriller. Written by Oscar-winner Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential"), it moves a little too fast at times and most of the characters, based on real people, are too one-dimensional, but there's enough to keep the action flowing, particularly a breathtaking finale that plays better than a video game.

All the technical elements are in place for the thriller that's been delayed a few times since it wrapped filming nearly two years ago. If "Green Zone" reminds you of "The Hurt Locker," that wouldn't be surprising, since Barry Ackroyd, that film's cinematographer, handles the photography here with a similar, intense realism. The fast-paced editing, the authentic sets and music also help pace the film, which is also uniformly well-acted by it's A-list cast, particularly by Damon, Kinnear, Gleeson and especially a warm performance from Oscar-nominee Amy Ryan.

"Green Zone" falters down the stretch when it attempts to cast stones at the Bush Administration, which by now seems redundant and moot, regardless of your political standing (and particularly coming from a British director). But as an intense, exciting action thriller for the masses, "Green Zone" works just fine.