Review: Green Zone
2 stars (out of 5)
By R. Kurt Osenlund
The first time I checked my watch during “Green Zone,” an anti-war dizzy spell from director Paul Greengrass, it was to find out how long I'd been sitting through scene after scene of characters screaming at each other. The answer? Thirty minutes. Thirty minutes in which an obnoxious gaggle of barely believable soldiers, politicians, journalists, townsfolk and special agents do little more than argue and shout run-of-the-mill exposition over the din of gunfire, automobiles, explosions, riots, aircraft engines and yet more arguing. And that's just one quarter of this gripping-on-the-drawing-board, grating-on-the-screen thriller, which adamantly aims to shake up the Establishment with its attack on the motives for the Iraq war, but mainly ends up testing audience tolerance for infernal racket and bad writing.
Surely I don't expect my military movies to whisper, but, then again, a little film called “The Hurt Locker” just snagged six Oscars for mastering the art of speaking softly and carrying some big improvised explosive devices and even bigger themes of disillusionment. In “Green Zone,” written by hit-or-miss screenwriter Brian Helgeland (hit: “Mystic River,” miss: “Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant”), the recipe for tension consists of near-constant cranked-up volume, hectic hysteria and ludicrously overcooked altercations. Rarely is there a burst of actual excitement because there's nary a break in this most rudimentary of dramatic approaches. Everyone's REALLY worked up about something VERY serious, but hell if we can identify with the urgency of their actions, so superficially are those actions presented to us.