Monday, March 22, 2010

GREEN ZONE - too simplistic, too late

GREEN ZONE is Matt Damon and Peter Greengrass' risible attempt to sucker the fanbase of the BOURNE films into watching a movie with a more avowedly political subject matter. Which just goes to show that the mainstream audience isn't that dumb. Just because it's got shaky handheld camera work and Matt Damon running around looking earnest and puzzled, doesn't mean that a movie is suspenseful or fundamentally politically interesting. I think the basic problem with GREEN ZONE, other than that it's not BOURNE 4, is that it's trying to make something we now taken as read look interesting. Yes, yes, it's a crying shame that we were taken into war in Iraq on the false premise that the Iraqis had weapons of mass destruction. But, seven years later, I think the public is too jaded to really care. We were lied to - we're in a mess - now what? Kathryn Bigelow broke through the apathy with her micro-psycho take on the archetypal figure in a street-fighting war - the bomb disposal expert. Her film, THE HURT LOCKER, was tense, but also took us into a side of the war that we genuinely might not have know about before. But GREEN ZONE, for all its earnest good intentions, tells us nothing new, and shows us nothing new. Roger Ebert says that GREEN ZONE looks at war in a way no other war film has, insofar as the US is the dupe not the hero. I beg to differ. Hollywood has been making great films about the vicious lie at the heart of most wars for decades, not least about Vietnam and more recently with THREE KINGS. Ebert also damns with praise here: "By limiting the characters and using typecasting, he [Brian Helgeland] makes the deceit easy to understand". Respect to Ebert, but no. If you have to debase yourself with typecasting, then you're just not up to the job. And at any rate, this film really just isn't that complicated. The trick missed is to show the personal human price paid. As THE HURT LOCKER took inside the insane world of the lead character, we should've seen more about how a stand-up guy like Damon's CWO Roy Miller would've reacted psychologically to realising that he'd been duped. What happens when the naive man grows up? That to me is more interesting than how fast and where he runs around.

GREEN ZONE is on release in Australia, Kazakhstan, Russia, Singapore, Canada, Finland, Indonesia, Norway, the Philippines, Spain, Sweden, the UK, the USA, Egypt, Germany, Kuwait, Switzerland, and Austria. It opens this weekend in Denmark, South Korea and Estonia. It opens on April 14th in Belgium, France, Argentina, the Netherlands and Brazil. It opens in Italy on April 23rd, in Turkey on April 30th, in Japan on May 14th, in Hungary on June 3rd and in Poland on June 4th.

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