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The Green Zone

3 Waffles (Out of 4) - Don't worry. Despite having the word "Green" in the title, Matt Damon is not some eco-warrior trying to destroy an evil polluter, save the dolphins or attempting to take down Toyota (they seem to be doing that all on their own). It's a war movie, so stuff is going to blow up.

Set in 2003, Damon stars as Roy Miller - a U.S. soldier leading a team searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. He's getting frustrated that all of his target sites seem to have been abandoned years ago, and the intelligence information provided to him is completely wrong. As Miller starts to speak up because he feels the presence of WMDs in Iraq was the whole point of going to war in the first place, he's told by everyone to shut up, except by CIA Agent Martin Brown (Brendon Gleeson).

Brown has been in disagreement with the Pentagon's Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) when it comes to setting up a new government and finding a replacement for Saddam Hussein, so the agent recruits Miller to be part of his team when the soldier has a run in with Iraqi General Al Rawi (Igal Naor). Miller might know where Al Rawi has been hiding, and everyone wants to find him.

Why must Al Rawi be found?

What does he know?

What might he reveal?

Green Zone is a better than solid action and mystery movie, and I hope it's not too smart for the audience. You don't need to be an expert on the war or someone who watches CNN 24-hours a day to understand what is happening on the screen, but it does help to have a basic knowledge of what is going on in the news (which you should have as a citizen and taxpayer anyway), and a willingness to pay attention. Then, director Paul Greengrass, writer Brian Helgeland (based on a book by Rajiv Chandrasekaran) and Damon take you on an action-packed roller coaster ride full of intrigue, lies, ethical challenges and more.

Green Zone is an enjoyable movie for the harrowing firefights and battle scenes our heroes find themselves in, but it's the mystery that makes it a good movie. Greengrass and Helgeland, while dealing with a somewhat obvious twist, keep the audience riveted as we hope Damon's character will cut through the weeds of deceit to find the truth, no matter how painful that might be for him.

In between the explosions and chase scenes, we are left to watch a political battle being waged an experienced bureaucrat tries to manipulate the system for the outcome he wishes to see, while one man has to question all he believed in, since it no longer matches up with his own set of what is right and wrong. This is where Damon shines.

As the disillusioned soldier who feels he has to fight the system he was supposed to trust to get the truth, Damon perfectly showcases Miller's fears, anger, frustration, disappointment and betrayal. Damon is able to gain the audience's sympathy because we all know this kind of betrayal, so he uses that to win us over. Then, he tries to get the truth and get even, which is something we all want to do as well. Damon is a smooth actor who makes it all feel real and unforced.

Green Zone leans more towards action instead of intrigue, which limits the opportunities for Helgeland to blow us away with some dialogue. Also, a few less fight scenes would have given us more Kinnear and Amy Ryan (a reporter who is caught up in the search for the truth), which is always a good thing.

3 Waffles (Out of 4)

Green Zone is rated R for violence and language.

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