Zone` gritty indictment of war (IANS Movie Review)
Rating: *** 1/2
War is never inevitable. Peace should always be. Going back
into the history of most wars, be it Vietnam, or the film`s domain, the Iraq
war, we realise this truth. That most wars are fought on flimsy reasons meant to
make war sound inevitable.
It`s April 2003, Iraq has been occupied by US forces for a month, but there are no signs of Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD), the basis for the war. One man more curious than most is Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon). He has led his team on dangerous raids based on �reliable` intelligence but has been unable to find even a trace of WMDs. When his top brass are unable to explain why, he decides to take matters into his own hands and go beyond the call of duty.
With the help of an Iraqi citizen and a CIA agent who also wants the truth, he tracks Al-Rawi (Yigal Naor), the top general in Saddam`s army, who he realises is the mysterious informer Magellan who is supposed to have confirmed the existence of WMDs. However, discovering the truth won`t be easy as he has to battle his own forces, and take on General Al-Rawi single handedly.
It is a truth we all know now -- that there were no WMDs in Iraq, thus making the invasion of Iraq illegitimate.
The film shows how the real danger is a WMD of a different kind, those cheekily called `Weapons of Mass Deception`. In one particular scene, Miller is told: "All they are interested in is spotting something they can hold up on CNN."
War is fought more in people`s minds than on ground. Sway their judgement and you can get away with almost anything -- even, as in this case, invading a country. And the partners in crime is an irresponsible media more interested in �breaking news` and ad revenues than the truth.
"Green Zone" effectively interweaves fact and fiction. Writer Brian Helgeland wrote the screenplay based on the non-fiction book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" by American-Indian Rajiv Chandrasekaran.
The film has many characters reminiscent of real life characters like Clark Poundstone who is modelled on Paul Bremer who actually dissolved the Iraqi army in 2003. The character of WSJ journalist Lawrie Dayne is based on New York Times reporter Judith Miller who was embedded in Iraq during the war.
Fans of the "Bourne" series will love the coming together of director Greengrass and Damon. The shaky, documentary style of camera made fashionable for Hollywood by the "Bourne" series works to heighten tension, and gives us a gritty, edge of the seat thriller.
Damon is believable as the straight-faced soldier. But it is Khalid Abdalla as Fareed, a hurt and concerned Iraqi, who does an excellent job.
The main drawback is that despite its courage to go where not many Hollywood films have dared it stops short of taking that leap of truth. It uncovers the intrigue but fails to give it completely, which we now know -- that the office and indeed the President of the United States himself were involved in the cover-up over WMDs and Iraq war. Also no explanations are given about the reason for Iraq`s invasion.
Yet "Green Zone" does tell us that the truth is `not` the first casualty of war. The real casualties of war are justice, kindness and compassion and deaths that could have been easily avoided because no war is truly inevitable.