March 19, 2010

W's Massive Deception

Based on Rajiv Chandrasekaran's non-fiction book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone, director Paul Greengrass has made a chaotic, thrilling action movie with political undertones. Using hand-held cameras to give it a documentary feel, we are again part of the action for a pulse-pounding, nail-biting movie-going experience. Not quite recent Oscar Best Picture winner The Hurt Locker, but it's still good, thought-provoking fun.

Green Zone is set during the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Army Chief Roy Miller (Matt Damon--and no, it is not Jason Bourne version 3.0) becomes increasingly frustrated as his team fails to find any weapons of mass destruction(WMD). He begins to question the intelligence information that led his government to invade and occupy the troubled nation. Amy Ryan plays Lawrie Dayne, a journalist who naively perpetuates government fabrications fed to her by a smug Pentagon officer Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear). Brendan Gleeson is Martin Brown, CIA Middle East expert, who knows the intel is false. His suggestions on how the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) should rebuild and run Iraq are also roundly dismissed by the Bushies. See if you can recognize Jason Isaacs as part of the Special Forces.

My favorite character however, is Freddy, an Iraqi who comes to the Americans with information and becomes embroiled in Miller's obsessive search for the truth. The Kite Runner's Khalid Abdalla admirably plays the honorable patriot who only wants what's best for his country. He represents the innocent, nameless, faceless Iraqis who undeservedly get demonized by the rest of the world.

It is the 7th anniversary of the Iraq War, and I disagree with some people's contention that the film is irrelevant since we've said goodbye to Dubya. Yes, Iraq again recently held elections, and that is a small victory. U.S. troops however continue to perish in a war predicated on lies. Former members of the Bush administration are coming out of the woodwork, doing interviews or writing books defending the decision to go to war. They are just as clueless as those who were sheltered in Baghdad's Green Zone. One lasting and jolting image from the film is when Miller's team goes to Saddam Hussein's former palace where the CPA is headquartered. We see people at the poolside, drinking beer and carrying on while elsewhere in the country, people have no food, water or electricity. Is it any wonder that Americans get such a bad rap? I love the bumper sticker that says, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." This movie will definitely raise one's hackles.

(photo from Impawards)


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