AWFJ Women On Film – “Green Zone” – Susan Granger reviews

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If you haven’t had enough of the Iraqi War with the Oscar-winning “The Hurt Zone” and are intrigued by re-teaming of director Paul Greengrass with Matt Damon, star of his “Bourne Supremacy” and “Bourne Ultimatum,” this political thriller interweaves fact with fiction delving into the chaotic early “shock and awe” days in Baghdad in 2003.

During the American-led occupation, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon) and his team of Army inspectors are dispatched to find Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction which were believed to have been stockpiled around Baghdad and in the desert. But on mission-after-mission at site-after-site, they’re coming up with nothing. Soon idealistic Miller becomes suspicious that perhaps the information they’re being fed by the Pentagon isn’t exactly accurate. But that’s not what manipulative Washington advisor Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) wants to hear; his prime objective is to inject American-style democracy into the region. It’s also disturbing to Wall Street Journal reporter Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan), who echoes the Bush Administration’s false conviction about WMD’s, relying on tips from a confidential source named “Magellan.” Only skeptical CIA veteran Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), derided by Poundstone as a “dinosaur,” provides heroic Miller clandestine assistance to follow his rogue instincts, rather than his orders, to unearth the elaborate cover-up.

Inspired by Baghdad-based Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” screenwriter Brian Helgeland’s (“Mystic River,” “L.A. Confidential”) dated, dumbed-down script incorporates much of the convoluted, war-scarred misconceptions, misrepresentations and miscalculations from Charles Ferguson’s documentary “No End in Sight” (2007). While names have been changed, it’s obvious that smarmy Poundstone is Paul Brenner and duped Dayne is former New York Times correspondent Judith Miller. In addition to his “Bourne” escapades, Paul Greengrass helmed “Black Sunday” and “United 93,” so he’s got gritty credentials, but “Hurt Locker” cinematographer Barry Ackroyd repeats the grainy, shaky, chaotic, ultra-realistic camerawork for which he just won his Academy Award.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Green Zone” is a far-fetched, flawed 5, tempting cynical wags to dub it “Bourne in Iraq.”

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.