Ever since American forces invaded Iraq in 2003, there has been something Oz-like about the Green Zone in Baghdad.
"Nothing transpires in the Green Zone without at least a hint of the surreal," The New York Times recently wrote.
Paul Greengrass's Green Zone, set shortly after the invasion, has its own surreal feel. Matt Damon is no-nonsense Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, intent on finding the weapons of mass destruction that were the justification for going to war. When he and his men keep coming up empty, Miller wants to know why.
The intel is good, he keeps being told by higher-ups, most of whom don't question the prevailing mood in Washington. This is seen in a Pentagon intelligence officer named Clark Poundstone, played with perfection by Greg Kinnear.
Only the CIA's Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) doesn't have a smiley face. He thinks Iraq will face sectarian violence and be mired in a political morass if the United States continues dismantling the country and bringing in their own Iraqis to run things.
Miller is caught in a power struggle, and the simple question he wants answered has complicated implications for the U.S. forces and Iraq itself. Using historical records and Rajiv Chandrasekaran's account of his years in the Green Zone, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, Greengrass and screenwriter Brian Helgeland have stitched together a fiction that rings true.
Certain characters in Green Zone will remind you of real figures. Some of the fictionalization might bother some viewers, including depictions of a hot-blooded Special Forces soldier (Jason Isaacs) and a sympathetic Iraqi (Khalid Abdalla) who is an informant and translator and is a stand-in for the country itself. But to Greengrass's and Hegeland's credit, they never oversimplify the situation.
Green Zone retails for $29.98 or $39.98 on Blu-ray.