Movie Mind Says: Add to Bottom of Netflix Delivery List
If You Like This You Should Watch: Rendition, The Good Shepherd
Better Than: Syriana
Worse Than: The Hurt Locker, The Bourne Ultimatum
Starring: Matt Damon, Brendan Gleeson, Greg Kinnear
If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought Oliver Stone was the conspiracy theorist/nut-job behind this political action thriller starring do-it-all Matt Damon. The main reason we know he’s not though, is that the writing isn’t nearly as compelling as it would have been if he wrote it. The beginning of the film feels rushed and forced, which shouldn’t be the case in a 2 hr. film. Nonetheless there are some good action scenes as long as you don’t get queasy too easily (aka handheld camera work and lots of shakiness). I feel like there should be a warning that says, “Not based on a true story” just so we don’t have a coup on our hands. The film was a flop at the box office which leads me to believe the viewing public has had enough of the Iraq war fairytales and left-wing slant designed to do nothing more than mislead.
Political affiliations aside, the film goes out of its way to use names and stories grabbed straight from the media coverage during the war and exploits them. Is that good storytelling? You can make up your own mind but to me it’s certainly not. I think Green Zone’s writing (partially adapted from the book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City) presents an interesting theory that would have been better suited for a 60 Minutes segment as opposed to masking it inside a Bourne-style action film.
Matt Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, whose sole job in the war is to lead his team on missions trying to recover evidence of WMD’s in Iraq. The only problem is, the intelligence is bad and they can never seem to find the weapons. You can connect the dots here and see which direction this heads very quickly. He teams up with a CIA officer who is sniffing around too much for the liking of a Pentagon official (Kinnear) who apparently has too much control over the USA’s agenda in Iraq. Damon’s character turns out to be a renegade, rogue officer who takes it upon himself to find some real intelligence and ignore the standard protocol that continues sending him to empty sites. Soon enough, he digs too deep and essentially becomes a one man army fighting the corruption of the American government. Stop me if you heard this before, because I’m sure you have. Damon’s character is more than just a little irritating and the supporting cast is handcuffed to play his sidekicks and foils. Interestingly enough, some of the best performances were put in by the unknown actors playing crucial roles of Iraqi’s.
The bottom line is that if you treat this like a mindless action/thriller, you might be mildly engaged. But if you are really hoping for a well-written story and responsible piece of filmmaking, then you’re barking up the wrong tree. At the end, there was no doubt left as to the true agenda when we were bitch-slapped with one final political statement. An Iraqi citizen who plays a prominent role and actually steals the scenes he is in with Damon says, “It is not for you to decide what happens here”. Good thing it is for me to decide whether or not I like this film.
Interesting Cameo Appearance: Amy Ryan (better known as Michael Scott’s girlfriend, Holly Flax, in NBC’s The Office) as Lawrie Dayne, a Wall Street Journal reporter who was provided false information by Kinnear and essentially helped lead America into the Iraq war. I think she should stick to Human Resources at a regional paper company instead. Sheesh.
General Al Rawi: Your government wanted to hear the lie Mr. Miller… they wanted Saddam out and they did exactly what they had to do… this is why you are here…
Miller: I thought we were all on the same side?
Martin Brown: Don’t be naïve…
Martin Brown: You cannot just hand this country over to an exile no one’s ever heard of, and a bunch of interns from Washington.
Wilkins: Chief, our mission is here.
Miller: You want to sit around dig holes all day, or get something done?
Miller: At least tell me how it happened. How does this happ… how does someone like you write something that’s not true? Tell me.
Freddy: It is not for you to decide what happens here.