Spoiler alert! Jason Bourne does not find the WMDs in Iraq. Sorry to ruin Green Zone for you, but surely already CNN did that years ago.
It’s an odd duck, this not-Jason Bourne movie in which star Matt “Jason Bourne” Damon and director Paul Greengrass (the last two Bourne adventures) go to Iraq to pursue truth, justice and the American way that We the Little People are supposed to live up to but from which our leaders are, apparently, exempt. It’s 2003, a month after the U.S. invasion. Baghdad is a looter’s paradise, Saddam is on the run and Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Damon) is getting frustrated. He’s leading a special army team tasked with swooping into WMD sites—we know they’re WMD sites because Our Secret Iraqi Source told us so—and bringing out the smoking guns so they can be paraded before the world press. Small problem: No WMDs. Not anywhere. Miller smells a rat.
Paul Greengrass is a master of documentary-style action filmmaking, but it’s an uncomfortable mix considering the genuine criminal political skullduggery sitting next to it. Imagine All the President’s Men with some kick-ass military action thrown in, and with nary a mention of Richard Nixon. The invention from whole cloth of Saddam’s WMDs may be a mystery that has yet to be fully unraveled, but it’s a mystery that actually exists.
And though Brian Helgeland’s script is based on the nonfiction book Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, the film plays like a wholly fictional thriller—perhaps one set not too far outside reality so as to lend it a gloss of authenticity. It is a fictional thriller, in fact—a Hollywood-washed charade, a tale of real perfidy that refuses to name any of the actual villains.
Matt Damon Amy Ryan Greg Kinnear