June 7, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 52°F


Damon returns to action genre

Jason Bourne has dropped his name and jumped ship from his title movie series. In the action thriller “Green Zone,” he may have a new name, Army fatigues and an automatic weapon, but he’s still the same character.

Paul Greengrass, director of the “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum,” cast Matt Damon as the lead for another action movie about a skilled soldier fighting his way to the truth. In “Green Zone” — a historical action thriller set during the initial stages of the second Iraq War — Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Miller. Miller’s job is to seek out and secure chemical weapons of mass destruction. But instead Miller finds an empty weapon site for the third time in a row. Now he wants to find out why.

Fans of Greengrass’ presentation in the Bourne movies will feel at home with “Green Zone.” Fast-paced shoot-outs are frequent, where soldiers use some form of tactics and maneuvering, instead of shooting blindly. There is also an intense fistfight, signature of the Bourne series, shot in closed quarters with tight camera shots. The story is intriguing, but the truth Miller arrives at is hardly surprising.

Greengrass exercises his minimalist, super-serious style of storytelling. All of the characters are portrayed as intensely professional, which fits well with the tone, since they are acting as people operating in the front lines.

“Green Zone” does a fair job re-creating the war-torn, rubble-filled city of Baghdad. The sandy streets and tan buildings of Baghdad are shown with a sense of realism; it looks lifelike but hardly ever feels like an over-romanticized exotic movie set.

The cast performs well, displaying emotions to support their motives while not coming off as overdramatic. Damon’s scolding of the untouchable antagonist is justified and appropriate, but it’s not ridiculous or overacted. Greg Kinnear, who plays Pentagon Special Intelligence Leader Clark Poundstone, does just as well with a more interesting character, portraying an oily, detestable bureaucrat.

“Green Zone” is a well-paced action thriller that constructs the time and place of the Iraq War using detailed images of the devastated desert. Even though it is similar to Greengrass’ Bourne movies in terms of presentation, it is still entertaining enough on its own feet.

“Green Zone” was written by Brian Helgeland  and directed by Paul Greengrass.