It is seldom that Hollywood gets it right when it comes to describing the realities of the world we live in, and especially when the relation between the American policies and the rest of the world are concerned. Director Paul Greegrass‘s ‘Green Zone’ comes however closer than many other films of the genre, maybe with the exception of Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. ‘Green Zone’ – which makes no claim of being based on true facts but looks and feels much closer to truth than many other movies that do – is both a very efficient thriller as well as a political statement.




Officer Miller (Matt Damon , Greengrass’s lead actor in the Bounty movies) is one of the many people the United States sent under uniform to fight for a war that history still needs to decide if it was a right or a wrong war, but almost everybody nowadays agrees that it started for the wrong reasons. The story focuses on the weeks and months after the American victory over Sadam Hussein, the search for WMDs, the decisions (which now we know were wrong) to discharge the whole Iraqi army and political structure and build from zero a democracy in Iraq. Not only is the disconnect between the theories of the American politicians and commanders and realities in the field complete, but the gap is also filled with lies and disinformation. Miller is the typical American hero trying to do the right thing, but doing the right thing in the wrong situation soon puts him in the situation to go rogue and fight his own side’s political and military mechanisms which at least in part are involved into supplying the high political echelons with the information that they want to hear. Of course, there is another side to this war, and the film has the quality of providing an image of that side which is far from the stereotypes. The Iraqi general trying to provide the true information to the American and reach a compromise, as well as the ‘collaborator’ who has his own personal motivation in the suffering he went through under Sadam are both credible and human, supported by excellent actors (Yigal Naor, Khalid Abdalla) in the supporting roles. The key phrase of the film which one of the characters tells the American officer resumes better than many other sources the logic (if there is a logic in such situations) of what happened in Iraq in these times – ‘It is not for you to decide what happens here’


(video source  PearlandDean)


The other very good part of the film is the way the Iraq of the first months of the American occupation is being filmed. In many moments it reminded me post-apocalyptic movies. The country looks like scorched land, populated by the hungry and thirsty phantoms of the defeated local population and by the high-tech silhouettes of the conquerors who seem at the same time to belong to another world but also end by being covered by the same dust and prey to the same basic human fears. Greengrass is very efficient in filming action and a quite complex intrigue ends by being clear and catching, and the actions scenes make sense and belong to the logic of the film.  The story of the Iraq war is far from being fully written or brought to screen, but when later things will get summed ‘Green Zone’ may be viewed as one well drawn piece of the puzzle.