I Always Thought Matt Damon Was A Streisand...


But A.O Scott says in Green Zone he's rocking the shit:

Among the Americans in Baghdad, there is back-stabbing and miscommunication -- people on the same side working at cross purposes and sometimes in direct conflict. Miller experiences this in a series of encounters with a Special Forces hotshot played by Jason Isaacs, who has a habit of showing up to undermine whatever Miller is doing, sometimes punching him in the face for good measure. 

For the Iraqis things are much worse, and "Green Zone" is admirable in its refusal to make them bit players in their own nation's drama even though the Americans occupy center stage. A Baathist general named Al Rawi (Igal Naor) lurks in the shadows, either a potential asset in the American effort to reconstruct the country or a dangerous obstacle. At Miller's side is a man he calls Freddy (Khalid Abdalla), who serves as an informant and a translator and who expresses the deep ambivalence -- the hope, the disappointment, the anger -- of ordinary Iraqis who suffered under Hussein's dictatorship and are not sure how much to trust their liberators. 

 "It is not you who will decide what happens here," Freddy says to Miller, in one of the film's forgivably pointed lines. I say forgivably because "Green Zone" seems to epitomize the ability of mainstream commercial cinema to streamline the complexities of the real world without becoming overly simplistic, to fictionalize without falsifying. Pedants may object that the chase sequences and plot twists distort the facts, while thrill-seekers may complain that the politics get in the way of the explosions and firefights. And the inevitable huffing and puffing about this movie's supposedly left-wing or "anti-American" agenda has already begun. 

 All of this suggests that the arguments embedded within the movie's version of 2003 are still going on seven years later, and are still in need of accessible and honest airing. Which is precisely what "Green Zone," without forsaking its job of entertainment, attempts. When Mr. Greengrass made "United 93," his 2006 reconstruction of one of the Sept. 11 hijackings, some people fretted that it was too soon. My own response to "Green Zone" is almost exactly the opposite: it's about time.

I wish I could see this in the theater, but I think I'm going to have to wait on Netflix. I do love Damon and Amy Ryan, though.
Jump to comments
Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Entertainment

From This Author

Just In