Thursday 11 March 2010

Review: Green Zone

Year; 2010
Director: Paul Greengrass
Screenplay: Brian Helgeland
Starring: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendon Gleeson, Jason Issacs, Amy Ryan

Synopsis is here

Those who are adverse to the shaky cam techniques, that Paul Greengrass uses his two Bourne movies will do well to avoid Green Zone. The chaotic and sometimes madding use of this camera style is all over this film in droves and despite it giving us the immediacy and energy the green zone needs, the blurry out of focus shots and hyper editing is sometimes distracting and can lose the sense of place needed for the action set pieces to make a stronger impact.

However, Greengrass a director that can still manages to utilize this style and still bring about tension and advance a films plot. Case in point: In a pivotal scene between Millar (Matt Damon) and Briggs (Jason Issacs), Greengrass' roaming, almost rabid visual style almost blurs alot of the actual fight but the shot that most important to the narrative reminds in the viewers eye. There's method to the madness it seems.

Visual style aside, Greengrass as made a good solid action thriller with slight political asides. It has a complex but not complicated plot that had me gripped in it's quieter moments and while it may feel a bit too preachy and liberal for some, there's still enough in the story to make you stop and think. I will say however there maybe some out there who will watch Green Zone and feel that the film has told them nothing they don't already know.

What's most interesting about the film for me was it's presentation of it's characters within the films narrative, the antagonists in particular. Its villains are seeped in shades gray. Some motives are clearly underhanded but seemingly for the good of people while others obey orders from their bosses and do not question their higher ups. The crux of the film lies on information from a source who may or may not have been telling the truth, which once again begs the question: Were the Allied Forces far to willing to go to war? The film does well not to answer this fully but leave enough residue to the viewer into what they might think.

Strangely despite looking at the war from a different angle, I found it gels well with the addiction to aggression themes displayed in newly Oscar crowed The Hurt Locker, suggesting that no matter what war may be in our blood and despite our evolution we may just be finding civilized way to feed the primal. With this said Greengrass and screenwriter Brian Helgeland do well to make that despite the questions asked, the film keeps a good pace and remains enjoyable.

It helps when you place a top of his game Matt Damon and a handful of great character actors to head the cast of the film. Damon's character may feel like Jason Bourne with more memory and less martial arts, that everyman charm that was in said trilogy once again shines through in spades. Everyone else (Brendon Gleeson, Amy Ryan, Jason Issacs et all) put in some good work but for me the other stand out of note was Greg Kinnear who provides a Cater Burke feel when ever he's on screen, even when doing nothing....maybe that says more about how I feel about Greg Kinnear!

With both Green Zone, The Hurt Locker and many other films that have appeared in the last few years, it has shown that the war and it's issues have become more open topic to the world of film. As the war rages on it appears that filmmakers are beginning to create mature and yet entertaining works on a difficult subject. Green Zone may feel like Bourne meets Modern Warfare 2 but isn't afraid to ask questions either.