Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ed Faver, Jun 21, 2010.

  1. Ed Faver

    Ed Faver Second Unit

    Jul 30, 1999
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    Release Date: June 22, 2010
    Studio: Universal
    Run Time: 115 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
    Rating: R for violence and language
    Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English/Spanish/French, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles
    MSRP: $29.98


    Green Zone brings Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon back together for the third time. As with the Bourne films, action drives much of this picture. This time, we are asked to join these filmmakers in a real world scenario that happened not so long ago. "Inspired" by a non-fiction book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Green Zone follows the experiences of Roy Miller, a US Army Warrant Officer (played by Damon) during the first days of the Second Gulf War. He and his team are tasked with securing weapons of mass destruction hidden throughout Baghdad and nearby environs. Their intelligence has been supplied by a high-level Iraqi source and is considered unimpeachable.

    Greengrass opens the picture by dropping us right in the middle of a raid by Miller's team on a WMD site. The action is compelling, made more so by the fact that we know this stuff really happened. Jason Bourne isn't going to jump into the frame and start killing bad guys by snapping necks with an easy twist. Miller and his team spend a few hair-raising minutes pinned down by a single sniper. They figure out how to get him without losing anyone on the team, but it's not easy. Once the site is secured, they enter to find...nothing. Quickly we learn that this is happening time and again to Miller's team. Solid gold intel leads to empty warehouses while putting US soldiers at serious risk. During a briefing with the brass, Miller starts asking questions and is told to do his job. Even as he "yessir"s his superiors, we know that Miller has other plans. He better, or we have a VERY brief movie.

    In short order, we meet a CIA officer Martin Brown, played by Brendan Gleeson, who sees an opportunity in Miller's skepticism, Greg Kinnear as Clark Poundstone, the Pentagon representative of the Bush White House, who has an agenda to push, and Amy Ryan as Lawrie Dayne, a journalist Kinnear is "cooperating with" by feeding her the information he wants to see in print.

    The American Government needs WMDs to exist in order to make war in Iraq. It's clear that Kinnear believes he is fighting a noble cause: America is bringing down a dictator and giving birth to a new democracy. The ends justify the means. As the story unspools, we learn the truth about what the Iraqi source told Poundstone about WMDs and what our government decided to do with that information. And what they decide to do to the source when it becomes certain that Miller is going to do everything he can to find the man and bring him to Brown at the CIA.

    Green Zone is a very sincere film. It is respectful of the work of the American soldiers and works very hard not to turn the representatives of the Bush White House into mustache-twirling villains. What is disturbing is how the journalist Dayne so quickly bought into what Poundstone fed her. On what appears to be wide-eyed trust alone, the Wall Street Journal publishes her stories about the Iraqi source, "Magellan," who was providing the location of the phantom WMDs. Looking back at my memories of this period of our history, it's clear that a lot of people allowed themselves to get burned. What was disturbing to this (somewhat) naive reviewer is the active role private military teams played in Iraqi. A near-unrecognizable Jason Issacs plays the leader of a "Delta Force" that looks and smells like soldiers, but have no American flags or other insignia on their field uniforms. These guys do Poundstone's dirty work and wear the black hats.

    What Green Zone appears to communicate effectively is the constant state of confusion the characters live with. Miller is knocked back on his heels time and again. However, this is undermined by the introduction of Baghdad native, Freddie (Khalid Abdalla), who witnesses the gathering of some very high-level Iraqi military men and decides to seek out an American soldier and "do the right thing." Without the arrival of Freddie, Miller would have spent the rest of the film chasing his tail. Freddie is EVERYTHING to the picture and his insertion is just not believable.What also strains credulity is Miller's decision to disobey orders and play Dick Tracy in hunting down Magellan. His final act in the film is to communicate with the press in a way that would have to subject him to court martial charges in life. For a film that gives us so many moments that feel very real, this is asking us to accept too much.

    RATING: 3/5


    Green Zone is presented in a 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. There were no noticeable flaws or artifacts in the image. Much of the film is shot in very bright sunlight and image quality suffers a bit. Many night scenes, particularly a climatic chase sequence, are purposefully shot with a great deal of grain. It's a bit much and I found it hard to watch at times. Combined with handheld camera work that defines "shaky cam," you end up with the potential to induce motion sickness. I understand what Greengrass was going for. I just couldn't stomach it for long stretches.

    RATING: 3.5/5


    The soundtrack is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital. It can be loud. Very loud. The mix of combat is a positive addition to the sense of confusion we feel as Miller and his crew battle a sniper. Sounds, music, and dialogue are deftly layered. The chase sequence, while a strain on the eyes, is a delight for the ears. A Delta Force helicopter follows the ground chase and adds another dimension to the soundscape.

    RATING: 4.5/5


    Greengrass and Damon sit down for a very specific commentary track. It seems that they were actually in the same room, watching together. There are production anecdotes, analysis of scenes, and, yes, criticism of the work. Worth your time.

    Matt Damon: Ready for Action. An unfortunately titled featurette about Damon's apparently successful effort to become 'one of the guys' among the other actors playing soldiers. Many of the grunts in the outfit were Iraqi veterans or active duty soldiers between tours. They kept Damon honest in how a Warrant Officer would behave among his men and were also an informal advisory group on everything from when to remove his helmet to adrenaline levels in different situations.

    Inside the Green Zone. This self-congratulatory feature is bound to show up on HBO between features in the month Green Zone premieres on cable. It is a very predictable EPK. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing special.

    Deleted Scenes (with or without commentary by Greengrass/Damon). These are fully completely scenes, scored and in appropriate aspect ratio. They include a brief scene of Miller's soldiers digging for WMDs; a tour of an Iraqi torture center by the American-installed leader of 'new' Iraq and Poundstone followed by a confrontation with Miller's team; a car bomb outside a mosque and Miller's return of a body to an Iraqi family; and Poundstone and the new Iraqi leadership discussing political strategy. All are brief, none are essential to the final film.

    The feature commentary is the keeper of this group.

    RATING: 3.5/5


    Green Zone is earnest and sincere. Greengrass does his best to present a version of what happened without demonizing any party or placing any group on a pedestal, though Miller comes close to becoming memorialized in the town square. The film moves fast, to its advantage. Green Zone is at its best when Greengrass is placing us in the confusion and paranoia of daily life in Baghdad at the start of the war. Action sequences are generally handled well (but oh, that shaky cam) and are integral to the story. As mentioned earlier, too much hinges on the arrival of one character: Freddie. At the end of the picture, I was left a bit empty. Is it too soon for these films?

    The DVD is a reasonably full package. The extras are predictable, but I can recommend one pass through, with special kudos, again, for a nice commentary track.


  2. Chas_Michael

    Chas_Michael Second Unit

    Dec 12, 2000
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    an Obama garbage junk propaganda Bush bashing sickening movie.


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