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This week:
Green Zone

Filthy says:
"It's green, but it ain't lucky."

Green Zone is a polemic. It's also not particularly good storytelling. Both annoy me, but the latter more than the former. Hell, I like a well-done polemic. That's why I still talk to my family. I don't even care if the narrator is bat-shit looney-tunes as long as the polemic is passionate and makes some sense to someone. I suspect a lot of people will have a kneejerk reaction to Green Zone because it illustrates the wrongness of American actions in Iraq. Some will shout, "Fuck yeah!" and some will holler that it's leftist pablum. Screw that. They should be more pissed that it's not entertaining. After all, that's what they paid for.

The core issue in Green Zone has been hammered into the ground before, very well by Seymour Hersh, and known by most with access to a computer or newspaper. That is, there were no WMDs in Iraq and there was no credible evidence to justify them as our reason for going to war. That's not a political statement; it's a fact. People arguing about the missing WMD nowadays are going round and round about how just or unjust we were in our wrongness, and more along party lines than logical ones.

Green Zone, however, fictionalizes the details around our bad intelligence, dumbing the real story down with Hollywood plotting and crap characters. Adding nothing to our understanding of the Iraq war would make it a shitty book. Failing fails with such boilerplate characters and action makes it a shitty movie.

The Green Zone of the movie's title is the well-protected heart of American presence in Baghdad, where the fat cat bureaucrats and politicians have cocktail receptions and sparkling swimming pools. The title is meant to imply the disconnect between the horrors of the war and the buffer surrounding the people running it. It would be an interesting allegory in a better movie. Here, though, it's an afterthought.

Matt Damon plays a marine commander traveling Baghdad in search of suspected WMD sites. He keeps coming up empty and wants to know why. Greg Kinnear plays an arrogant Washington bureaucrat who resolutely promotes the war and the intelligence being used. He's such a patently slimy villain that you have to figure all the bad shit leads back to him. Brendan Gleeson is a CIA operative who doesn't believe there are weapons and figures Kinnear is a dishonest asshole. Damon, a reporter and Gleeson all want to know what Kinnear knows: the source of the intelligence.

On assignment, Damon meets an Iraqi citizen who reports that he has seen Saddam's former men meeting nearby. Damon goes off mission to investigate and finds one of the former leader's top men holed up in a house. There is a chase, but Saddam's man gets away. However, Damon retrieves a book that contains all of the villain's safe houses. He tucks this away, but when word gets out Kinnear wants the book, all hell breaks loose and the Americans are busier fighting themselves than the Iraqi insurgents.

Along the way, Green Zone director Paul Green grass adds not-so-subtle political commentary, including a shot of George Bush making his "Mission Accomplished" speech. Yes, we know the dork made a regrettable speech, but pointing out the stupidity ran its course after every TV satirist poked fun and Fox News worked overtime to defend it. This ground has been tread so heavily that Greengrass isn't enlightening us; he's just picking at scabs.

Green Zone's other obvious political message is that we overestimated how simple the Iraqi people were and how easy it would be to create democracy from whole cloth. This point is raised over and over again in the movie. As true as it is, we've already heard this many times. Raising it here is bitterness, not revelation, and certainly not entertainment.

Green Zone wraps its two tired-ass complaints in a flak jacket. There are exploding helicopters, midnight shootouts and adrenaline-fueled soldiers raisin' in the dirt. Two-thirds of the way in, Damon learns why the slimy Kinnear is so eager to catch the Iraqi henchman. The plot purports to be a thriller, and it has shitloads of dizzying, handheld-camera action scenes. The ones at night are nearly impossible to follow.

Baghdad is an enormous city and, much like Vienna after WWII, broken into regions that you can easily got lost within. Still, Damon manages to be exactly where he needs to be at all times. He appears to have no commander and can go wherever he wants and harass whomever he wants. And he's the good guy. The Iraqi henchman he chases is shockingly easy to find. The evidence and clues that have been elusive to the CIA fall into his lap.

No character seems to have a personality and only gets to talk when spouting what the moviemakers must have through were BIG, PROFOUND statements. Damon's character is only interesting in his virtue. Without that he has no personality. He says only slightly more than an ice cream cone, and most of it in gruff little bursts of macho marine talk. Kinnear's bureaucrat is as one-dimensional as the bad guys in Avatar. A reporter played by Amy Ryan is working to discover the source of bad intelligence, after being responsible for leaking it. You'd think a woman reporter in Iraq would be tough as nails, but she crumbles faster than expired Donettes at the Hostess Thrift Store. Gleeson, who plays the CIA operative, goes through the movie holding back his thick Irish accent like it was explosive diarrhea and he was fifty feet from the bathroom.

There's a lot going on in Green Zone, but I didn't give a cock's waddle about any of it. It just blasted across the screen like a lot of bitchy noise and flashes. The result of the stale political commentary, lame characters and simplified detective work are too little original thought behind the action. The commentary put too much emphasis on the message to be mindless. Good political movies trick you into getting the message. This one isn't good. Two Fingers.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Greg Russell of WMYD-TV

Remember Me is "A sweeping romantic masterpiece!"

Filthy's Reading
B. Traven - The Death Ship

Listening to
The Halo Benders - Don't Tell Me Now


You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown