Inspired by the book Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Green Zone follows Roy Miller (Damon), an Army officer tasked with searching for ever-elusive WMDs in post-occupation Iraq. Miller begins to question the validity of the government’s intel as more and more sites turn up empty, but a tip from a friendly Iraqi (Abdalla) sets off an investigation that threatens to uncover the truth behind America’s invasion of Iraq. An interesting tale of political intrigue marred by hyperactive visuals.
Even though Green Zone stretches believability in places, it delivers a compelling narrative that is politically complex but remarkably easy to follow. The film’s depiction of Baghdad, and the arrogance and short-sightedness running rampant within it, are captured vividly enough to overshadow the relative thinness of the characters (of which Abdalla’s patriotic-but-conflicted Freddy is a standout). Greengrass employs some cinematic shorthand in place of detailed characterization, which is an overall benefit to the film’s breakneck pace. Also, I realize that this is Greengrass’s bread-and-butter style, but can we please cut back on the constant barrage of jittery-cam footage? Attempting to put the audience “in the moment” and intensifying the action/drama is one thing, but many action scenes are reduced to speed blurs and the sound of people grunting. That said, if you can overlook the style and focus on the plot, it’s a worthwhile film.