Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Predictability, cliché bog down stellar cinematography in ‘Green Zone’

Credit: O. Johnson

“Green Zone”

A preoccupation for identifying truth, or the accumulation of evidence that points toward a distinct narrative, seems to occupy most of director Paul Greengrass’s films. From “Bloody Sunday,” about the day 27 civil rights protesters in Northern Ireland were shot by the British Army, to “United 93,” about the hijacking of the fourth plane on 9/11, Greengrass’s films posit this journey to truth as one worthy of a kind of fictional exploration unabashedly tied to reality.

His latest film, “Green Zone,” starring Matt Damon and Amy Ryan (Holly from “The Office”), easily fits in with the rest of his oeuvre. Concerning the early attempts to find WMDs in Iraq, Barry Ackroyd’s neorealist cinematography gives Greengrass’s film a sensory  presence lacking in acclaimed war films like “Saving Private Ryan” or “Letters from Iwo Jima.” Unfortunately, “Green Zone” doesn’t replicate the near perfect pairing of cinematography and script Greengrass realized in “United 93.” The shaky, yet beautiful camera sequences are paired with predictable plot chicanery and clichéd dialogue.

“We’re here to do a job; the reasons don’t matter,” says a fellow American soldier to Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon).

“They matter to me,” Miller replies.

The film’s laudable attempt to locate truth beneath the rubble is mired in the, by now, uninteresting question of why the U.S. intelligence so miserably failed in finding WMDs in Iraq. Had Greengrass written the script, perhaps the question could’ve been another: What role did the United Nations play in this search? How did the complexities of U.S. military-Iraqi military play out? Or, what led the military to lie to its own officers?

Don’t expect “The Hurt Locker,” whose cinematography is also Ackroyd’s; expect, rather, something similar to “Black Hawk Down” with better cinematography, but less intensity.

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