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"Don't be naive." Mostly made and vetted with soldiers who were in Iraq (...but the blu-ray's not worth it)
on August 26, 2010
Look at the comments and reviews for Hurt Locker here; there are dozens of soldiers pointing out how unreal so much of that film is, and how a real soldier wouldn't do much of what that film shows. Now look at the reviews and comments for Green Zone. I see exactly one soldier who thought it was unrealistic...and then only in how Damon's character steps over the political line of not doing what he's ordered to.
Almost all the soldiers in the film were in Iraq, and they made the decisions on the set about how the battle and other army scenes went. The head consultant, Monty Gonzales, was the guy who did in Iraq what Damon does here: look for WMDs. And for those who call this movie propaganda, he says on the extra doc here that he knew there were no WMDs after his first mission looking for them; Damon takes three missions to decide. So is that real-life soldier a liberal Hollywood propaganda plant? I don't think so.
Looking at this film purely technically, it's got one huge flaw: the hand-held cams are way too shaky. That makes it hard to watch with enjoyment at times. I'm pretty tired of handheld=real; that equation's over and done with by now. Let it go, directors. A spice, yes; a main dish, no. Here it just distracts and detracts.
Damon is pretty good, and the soldiers all said in interviews that they believed him as their chief after two days, so they'd know best. The film feels real, no doubt, and it's a good (not great) thriller, political considerations aside. If you're looking for a war movie, this is a decent one. But avoid the blu-ray; the movie was shot in a very grainy way to make it seem more real, and the dvd gets that across just as well for less coin.
Now let's talk about the story. The truth is, we never did find any WMDs in Iraq, and the intel does look in hindisght to be false. Gonzales, the real soldier in charge of looking for them here, says so himself. Or do you know better than him? He points out that this is a fictional film in an online article he wrote after the film, and obviously that's true. Damon's character could never do what he did here and get away with it. Yet neither would the CIA be as upstanding as they appear here, and willing to fight Bush's White House (Abu Ghraib comes to mind). So it cuts both ways, for those who call this liberal propaganda.
Let's be honest: almost everything around this "war" when it was going on was neocon propaganda, and they are the folks who own the defense companies who've made hundreds of billions from all this. Not many liberals are war profiteers, you can at least give them that. So if they want to create their own clearly fictional movie about the war, let them. I'm neither lib nor hawk; I just think we're lied to daily by both sides, dems and reps. I don't trust ANY of 'em.
But I have no issues with watching a movie like this and considering its ideas. If you truly love democracy, you need to hear all three sides of any (war) story: yours, mine, and the truth. From that vantage point, I like this movie more than Hurt Locker. Although it claimed to be apolitical, and "just showed soldiers doing their jobs", how can you possibly separate soldiering and morality? That's like saying the German soldiers who rounded up folks with yellow stars and sent them to the showers had no complicity. Come on. At some point we all have to make decisions as to what we're willing to do for our families, our countries, and the human race in general. Isn't that a big part of what America, and the whole old Hollywood John Wayne/Clint Eastwood mythos, is all about?
That's what makes Green Zone interesting; it goes where Hurt Locker was afraid to go. It lets soldiers make moral decisions. Realistic or not, it's a very thought-provoking idea, and since when is thinking deeply about a war that cost us a trillion dollars, and so much more vitally cost hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis their lives, since when is it wrong to really consider how honest and right the entire war was? Never, I'd say. I want all sides of the picture. Which is why we hear so little about Afghanistan: the money is rolling in for the contractors, and the less we think about that, and what we're really achieving over there, the better for the war profiteers. War is great business, and once you get one going, it's a gravy train (if not for liberals, those poor suckers).
Let's be honest: if we really love our soldiers, why do we want to put them in harm's way? Why do we treat them like trash once they've lost limbs for us and come home to be homeless in many cases? Do we really care about them as people, or do we just want them to die for us so we can wave the flag and feel noble and proud? These are questions that rarely get asked, and any movie that addresses them is worth watching.
As the vet from Iraq who lives next to me says: if we truly love American soldiers, why are we sending them off to die in order to to rebuild other countries, when we're not rebuilding our own? One line here resonates over and over as we watch our country go bankrupt behind this war, for no apparent reason but greed: "Don't be naive."
The Green Zone asks those tough questions, and for that it's worth watching.