Thriller 'Green Zone' Takes Series Look At Iraq

Less than a week after The Hurt Locker won the Oscar for best picture, a new Iraq war movie is in theaters. Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon — the director and actor from the last two movies in the Jason Bourne franchise — are back together with a film that combines action and a political message.

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Just after "The Hurt Locker" won the Academy Award for Best Picture, moviegoers can see another picture set in the Iraq war. It's called "Green Zone," and it's directed by the man who brought you "The Bourne Ultimatum." Critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN: "Green Zone" is a red-hot action-thriller that isn't afraid of taking a serious look at the situation in Iraq. It's the early days of the U.S. invasion, and Matt Damon plays the head of a team of soldiers risking their lives to find weapons of mass destruction.

(Soundbite of movie, "Green Zone")

Mr. MATT DAMON (Actor): (as Miller) OK, sir, I'll give you an example. We rolled into a site, Diwaniyah, last week. OK? 101st took casualties securing it for us. We got in there and found it was a toilet factory. I'm saying there's a disconnect between what's in these packets and what we're seeing on the ground. There's a problem with the intelligence, sir.

TURAN: Damon's military man feels so distressed, he even compares notes with an embedded journalist.

(Soundbite of movie, "Green Zone")

Ms. AMY RYAN (Actor): (as Lawrie Dayne) Lawrie Dayne, Wall Street Journal. So what are you and Marty talking about?

Mr. DAMON: (as Miller) Oh, you know I can't talk to you about that.

Ms. RYAN: (as Lawrie Dayne) Oh, come on.

TURAN: That's Amy Ryan, playing a reporter for the Wall Street Journal who sounds a lot like former New York Times staffer Judith Miller. It would be a mistake, however, to consider "Green Zone" to be any kind of tract. It is a story of idealism betrayed, but the tightly written dramatic script by Oscar-winning Brian Helgeland would be compelling even without its real-world connections.

(Soundbite of movie, "Green Zone")

Unidentified Man #1: Somebody (unintelligible).

(Soundbite of explosion)

Unidentified Man #2: What the...

TURAN: More than that, director Paul Greengrass hasn't lost his touch for the kind of rapid-fire action entertainment fans of the Bourne films appreciate. He and his "Green Zone" team convey a thrilling sense of the mind-warping turmoil on the ground.

(Soundbite of movie, "Green Zone")

(Soundbite of gunfire)

(Soundbite of grunting)

TURAN: "Green Zone" does falter in its closing sections, but its accomplishments are still impressive. Director Greengrass has made good on his aim to show that the mistrust and paranoia of Bourne's fictional world wasn't so far-fetched, after all.

MONTAGNE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times.

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