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Reviews Comments: An American movie for an American audience? Green Zone film/book review by 13secondspastmidnight

This movie despite being largely fictional does contain a very heavy amount of fact. Despite the fact that the names have been changed, you have a reporter from a respectable media institute who made false claims, a country who went to war on those claims without concrete verification, and highly stationed bureaucrats who don't listen to what those on the ground - who are actually competent and know what they are doing - are telling them. That's a fairly accurate description of the Iraq War. It's no surprise that this movie has been so derided by American critics and labelled as anti-American; like all good fiction, it shows up the flaws in its contextual situation through a woven story - it actually criticises a country which until now as labelled all criticism against it as "against the principles of freedom".

No wonder one critic actually called this movie "slander". It shows up the ineptitude in America's handling of a prolonged situation of conflict that is still causing thousands of unnecessary deaths on both sides, and a broken country brought to anarchy that still has not healed despite America's promises of liberation and democracy - YMMV whether tyranny in the form of a Stalin-istic dictator is better than pure anarchy. The only thing that this movie didn't mention was that the prolonged conflict in the Middle East is actively encouraging jihadists and those who now have a forum to preach their mutated perspective on the Qur'an. You may have noticed by now my bias on this subject, but I'm not the only one.

The one thing this movie does which no one on either side of the "American/Allies-Iraq war" debate can deny is that it shows clearly that now it is too late to pull out. The damage is already done, and the only way to try to make any future that isn't filled with disaster is to stick it through to the end. And I think that this is really the message that this film shows by the end credits: no matter how America and the rest of the world got involved, we're there now, and we're stuck until we figure things out.

I'm not the only non-American out there who thought it was high time this movie was made. This film is most certainly Anvilicious, and those anvils most definitely needed to be dropped.


  • maninahat
  • 14th Jul 11
But was it a good movie? The entirety of this review is spent discussing the accuracy of the political message, as opposed to dealing with typical elements as regarded by reviewers: good characters, well written dialogue, bracing plot etc. I haven't seen Green Zone, so I don't know these things. From your review, all I know about the movie is that it has a big political message that validates your personal views on the Iraqi war.
  • 13secondspastmidnight
  • 30th Jul 11
Yeah you're right on that one. I don't usually use reviews like this, but this one I spent discussing the politics rather than the movie which wasn't very fair. However, the entirety of the movie IS a political message, and the only way I could find to evaluate it was with that as its basis. Other than that, what can I say? It was an action flick written around the political ramifications of the Iraq war. The only real substance to this movie IS its political message, and honestly I think that when the director adapted the book Imperial Life In the Emerald City, his only goal was to get that message out so that people could see a fictionalised and simplified version of what happened.

It's like this: if you like the Bourne series (the films), then you'll like this movie because it is very similar. If you hate the politics of the Iraq war, then you should definitely avoid this, no matter what side of the argument you're on.

... I probably should have written that in the review itself. My mistake. I'll try not to repeat it.
  • Philbert
  • 30th Jul 11
I agree with your comment. I hated the Iraq War-still hate it and I hate this movie. The politics are pretty much what you say-except that the main problem I have with it is its tying a neat little bow at the end by blaming the machinations of one man; the Greg Kinear character. Iraq was a vast conspiricacy of greed, corruption and ambition-and was perpetrated by thousands of corrupt officials and businessmen who wanted their hands on the oil supply, among other things. None of that is mentioned in this film.

What I did like about it was the scenes with the Iraqi generals plotting their moves after the fall of Saddam. That felt real to me. The rest of it-bleh. Same old Hollywood crap.

And for the record, I am an American-one who generally loathes current American films. The best movie I've seen about the war so far isn't directly about it-"In the Valley of Elah" with Tommy Lee Jones. Skip this mess and go watch that one.
  • 13secondspastmidnight
  • 2nd Aug 11
I get what you're saying.

Imperial Life in the Emerald City goes into describing in-depth how the Iraq war was the cumulative effort of a lot of people either making a bad situation worse through ignorance, misdirection, or misapplication of American values to a country with no system to respond to them, or just a huge amount of people trying to pursue their own political and self-serving agendas with no regard for the consequences, with the few people who did know what they were doing getting shafted in the process. The biggest flaw in this movie - and it's a big one - is that it simplifies all of this down to archetypal personification in just a few characters, and skips over a huge degree of the political machinations that brought American occupation to its knees. Honestly, I don't know if it would have been really possible to be true to the book itself - what with the depth and detail it goes into - but I know that for people who do know quite a bit about the Iraq-war this movie pisses them off solely on how vastly oversimplified it makes the situation. It's very understandable, and I wouldn't blame anyone who felt that way.

However, I still tend to like this movie because it is one of the very few out there that actually confronts some of the realities of the Iraq war in any shape or form - that and that it's a competently directed an acted action movie in an age where Hollywood seems to be strangling my appreciation of action flicks. Until a more accurate/competent Iraq-war movie comes on to the scene, I still feel like I'll have to keep this movie in the "like" portion on my sliding scale of movies I love and hate. That said, "In the Valley of Elah" is a superior movie, both technically and with the message it carries, so if you've seen the Green Zone and were interested in the political message, I'd definitely recommend seeing that movie as well.

Also, for anyone out there who has any interest in the Iraq-war, read Imperial Life in the Emerald City. If not the, it will be one of the best Iraq-war books you will read, so if you're interested in that kind of thing, definitely go find a copy.

Okay I've rambled on for long enough now...
  • Exploder
  • 23rd Aug 11
I didn't notice any American movie critics hating on the movie for being anti-American except for the ones known to far right. Nice strawmanning in opening paragraph BTW.
  • tublecane
  • 2nd Sep 11
"it actually criticises a country which until now as labelled all criticism against it as 'against the principles of freedom'"

What the heck are you talking about?
  • Tomwithnonumbers
  • 2nd Sep 11
I think you missed the wish fulfilment part where the honest hard-working every day American does his best to put everything right! It gives the whole thing a more fairy-tale this-can-be-fixed feel and places the blame on anonymous bad guys than a critical bloody and messy movie would

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