Blu-Ray Review: Matt Damon Stumbles in ‘Green Zone’

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CHICAGO – Paul Greengrass suffered the first failure of his career with the disappointing “Green Zone,” a film that flopped with both critics and audiences early in 2010. As Kathyrn Bigelow was winning awards for her realistic examination of life behind enemy lines in the Middle East with “The Hurt Locker,” people dismissed Matt Damon’s long-delayed take on the failure of the war in Iraq. Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 3.0/5.0

The director of “The Bourne Supremacy,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” and “United 93” is an undeniably talented man who has long been intrigued with real-life danger. “Green Zone” chronicles the search for WMDs in Iraq through the eyes of an increasingly frustrated soldier (Matt Damon) caught between politics and the dangerous life of a military leader on the ground in an unstable country.

Green Zone was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 22nd, 2010
Green Zone was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 22nd, 2010
Photo credit: Universal Home Video

“Green Zone” is essentially a mirror of our own national discovery that there was a mountain of misinformation wbout Saddam Hussein’s infamous weapons of mass destruction through the eyes of a man caught in the middle. While the situation may not have been exactly as advertised during the sales campaign for the war in Iraq, it was also certainly a dangerous one and Greengrass attempts to paint the political context of his story in shades of personal danger.

Green Zone was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 22nd, 2010
Green Zone was released on Blu-ray and DVD on June 22nd, 2010
Photo credit: Universal Home Video

Brian Helgeland’s screenplay was an undeniably ambitious one, telling a sprawling tale with several major characters spread across international locations. The film has an undeniably impressive technical expertise with spectacular cinematography from the great Barry Ackroyd (Oscar-nominated for “The Hurt Locker”) and top-notch design on every level. It’s easier to overlook the film’s flaws on Blu-ray as the HD transfer from Universal is typically strong coming from what is easily one of the best studios in the Blu-ray market.

It’s also worth noting that the problems in “Green Zone” are largely not performance-related. Damon is completely effective and believable as a U.S. Army Officer while Brendan Gleeson and Amy Ryan make an impact in small roles. Greg Kinnear is less effective, appearing often uninterested in his own lack of character development.

The biggest problems with “Green Zone” are on a script level and the over-direction from Greengrass to compensate for them. Helgeland’s script alternates between being overly dense with character names or military speak and being far too on-the-nose to sound remotely realistic — “I came to find weapons and save lives and I didn’t find sh*t and I want to know why.

It feels nearly like Greengrass knew he didn’t have a strong enough script to get the adrenalin pumping and so he ups his “shaky cam” technique to previously unseen levels and the disorienting effect doesn’t have the emotional impact of “United” or “Bourne” because it’s so amplified that it often calls attention to itself and pulls the viewer out of the story. Despite the booming score and several notably made action set-pieces, “Green Zone” is surprisingly dull. Perhaps if it had come out a few years ago it might have had more power, but there’s an emotional current missing from this film that would have held it back no matter the release date.

Special Features:
o U-Control
o Video Commentary with Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass
o Picture in Picture: Enjoy behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and more while you watch the movie
o Deleted Scenes
o “Matt Damon: Ready for Action”
o “Inside the Green Zone”

‘Green Zone’ is released by Universal Home Video and stars Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan, Jason Isaacs, and Brendan Gleeson. It was written by Brian Helgeland and directed by Paul Greengrass. It was released on June 22nd, 2010 and is rated R. content director Brian Tallerico

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