“Green Zone,” taking place in 2003 Baghdad, touches upon the (at the time) growing conspiracy that Iraqis were hiding large stockpiles of WMDs throughout several areas in the country. The film’s American troops are determined to unearth these goods and prevent the unleashing of their destructive capabilities. However, the military consistently leaves Iraq’s cities empty-handed and disappointed, despite intel reports clearly indicating the presence of such agents.
Chief Roy Miller (Matt Damon) appears to be the only one open-minded enough to realize that these occurrences do not seem to add up. No matter who he goes to, whether it be U.S. intelligence representative Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) or his ruling officers, they seem to say the same thing about the whole deal: it is not their problem to worry about it, it is just their job to find the WMDs. Miller’s suspicion is at an all-time high and he is motivated in getting to the bottom of the issue at hand.
What the film is presenting is a political thriller plotline. One who knows me might infer that I am not a big fan of the genre as a whole. Despite my apathy, I expect and hope that movies in this genre are exoteric enough and entertaining enough to make me want to change my mind. “Green Zone” plays like a ruthlessly watered-down version of last year’s Academy Award-winning “The Hurt Locker” (also known as my #6 movie of 2009) with a political backbone.
One aspect that bored me to no end was the laziness employed in writing characters. Aside from Roy Miller and Clark Poundstone, I cannot think of any other characters (including a major supporting character played by Brendan Gleeson) that are worth my time. And even those two do not have much personality to work with. Unlike “The Hurt Locker,” which had at least a few characters that had a stimulating amount of depth and a sense of connectivity, this film does not face its characters with many thrilling situations. The action scenes are unusually slow and directed with no visual pizzazz, the dialogue sequences are stoic and one-dimensional, and everything else is bereft of any emotional intrigue or moral dilemma that made “The Hurt Locker” work so well.
Despite a welcome cast and crew (Damon, Kinnear, Paul Greengrass [director of the last two “Bourne” pictures]), “Green Zone” never takes off in the way that it should. As a matter of fact, that makes it all the more underwhelming. With a semi-relevant and gripping premise like this, it should captivate the viewer in addition to making them think about what is onscreen. The only thing this film made me think about was how in the world Roger Ebert could have given this a four-star rating. I am usually able to see the appeal in certain movies and why people would like them, but really? Four stars?