The third teaming of star Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass has been dubbed “Bourne 4” by more than one person based off the previews and early synopsis. Although the film isn’t that similar to the Bourne movies, this is a film that’s very familiar to American audiences. Unfortunately for Damon and Greengrass, nothing about this film set it apart from the dozen or so war movies we’ve seen in recent memory where the evil corporate/government types screw over the honorable soldiers/grunts.
Matt Damon is Roy Miller, a Chief Warrant Officer with the United States Army that’s the leader of the search team for weapons of mass destruction (WMD). After receiving intelligence about the location of WMD’s and then finding they’re not there, Miller becomes frustrated with the intelligence and makes his voice heard. This grabs the attention of Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), a CIA operative that’s being ignored. Somehow, Miller ends up working for Brown and Miller gets sent out on a one-man show to find the WMD’s himself and eventually to find the source of the intelligence.
In the first fifteen minutes or so of the film, Miller is part of an infantry unit that he’s responsible for. But he inexplicably ends up a rogue soldier doing what he wants, when he wants to. But no one seems to care that there’s a soldier running around on his own. And it’s not like Miller is a high ranking officer or in a position that would afford him this luxury. But it doesn’t really matter because the world in which Greengrass has created is one in which every American in power is an amoral liar and can’t be trusted. Miller is the lone soldier, just trying to do what’s right, despite his inability to follow orders. This isn’t a real example of the Iraq war; this is a world that allows Greengrass to tell his story and deliver his message and that served to undermine the film.
There is zero character development in this film. We barely learn Miller’s name and we have no idea who he is or why he cares so much. There’s an Iraqi sidekick (Freddy) that lost a leg, but we don’t know how or why. Matt Damon is great as usual, but not much was required of him other than to look determined for two hours. So with zero interest in the characters, all the pressure is on the story, which is basically Miller’s hunt for WMD’s, or the hunt for the source of the intelligence. If you followed the news from 2002 through 2005, you know that there are no WMD’s in Iraq and that there probably haven’t been for almost 20 years. So we know how the story ends and the journey Greengrass takes us on felt like a waste of time.
Paul Greengrass received a lot of praise for his direction of the BOURNE SUPREMACY. Critics loved the frantic pace and quick editing because it was something new in an action movie. But after repeating it in BOURNE ULTIMATUM and completely overdoing it here in GREEN ZONE, he deserves to be chastised for ruining his own technique. It’s not fun or cool anymore and it doesn’t move the story along or get the audience more involved. He went overboard with the editing this time to the point that the audience lost interest in his story. After directing this many movies, Greengrass should be getting better, not worse.
I wasn’t really expecting too much from this film and I didn’t really receive anything. This film is about five years removed from being relevant and the “government is evil” schtick in war movies has been played out too many times. There was not one single aspect of this film that was original or fresh. It all felt recycled and with characters I didn’t care about and poor directing from Paul Greengrass, it proved to be a wasted effort from two talented individuals.