Green Zone (15)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner10/03/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Fast-paced, enjoyable, shaky-cam heavy thriller that might as well be subtitled Bourne in Iraq, though it's slightly let down by a simplistic, preachy and occasionally cliched script.

What's it all about?
Director Paul Greengrass reunites with Bourne star Matt Damon for this Iraq-based thriller that's loosely based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran's book Imperial Life in the Emerald City. Damon stars as Chief Warrant Officer Miller, who's charging around Baghdad looking for weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in the wake of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

However, when the intelligence proves repeatedly faulty and the supposed WMD sites keep coming up empty, Miller starts asking awkward questions at debriefings and soon comes to the attention of both shifty Defence Intelligence agent Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) and CIA station chief Brown (Brendan Gleeson), who promises help. And when Miller gets word of the location of one of Saddam's top aides (Igal Naor as General Mohammed Al-Rawi), who might hold the key to the faulty intelligence, a frantic chase ensues as Miller tries to stay one step ahead and question Al-Rawi before Poundstone's Special Forces unit (led by Jason Isaacs in a handlebar moustache) take him out.

The Good
Damon makes a reliably square-jawed hero, though, despite the publicity's best efforts to convince you otherwise, Miller is no Jason Bourne – for example, there's a hand-to-hand fight that goes on for several minutes that Bourne would have taken care of with a rolled-up magazine in seconds flat. There's also strong support from Kinnear and Gleeson (reliably slimy and reliably gruff, respectively), while Amy Ryan does well with her thankless role as a US journalist and Isaacs is excellent (not to say unrecognisable) as the trigger-happy Lieutenant Colonel Briggs.

Greengrass keeps things moving at a decent pace and there's the occasional subversive touch, such as when you catch yourself rooting for Al-Rawi's men to take out a US helicopter. However, Greengrass's Bourne-style shaky-cam work isn't as effective here and you occasionally wish he'd opted for a more traditional approach.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is the script, which is at best simplistic and at worst embarrassingly and hand-wringingly preachy, such as when Miller yells at Ryan's character for not checking her sources.

Worth seeing?
Green Zone is enjoyable enough as an action thriller but it's somewhat let down by its overly simplistic script.

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Green Zone (15)
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