Call it Jason Bourne in the real world. Or the third big-screen iteration of Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass’ lone-man-on-a-life-threatening-quest nail-biters. Or a run-and-gun, shaky-cam thriller about war, nation building and the dangerous search for truth.
However you want to label “Green Zone,” some simple facts remain: The film is a loose adaptation of the 2006 book, “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran. Damon plays a military man named Roy Miller tasked with locating weapons of mass destruction following the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. When the WMD don’t turn up, Miller’s mission becomes much different: get to the bottom of exactly how the U.S. became embroiled in a war rapidly descending into chaos.
MTV News has been conducting its own bit of surveillance on the production — trailers, clips, interviews and more — so before you hit the theater this weekend, check out our “Green Zone” cheat sheet for everything you need to know.
The Improvisation Zone
Greengrass is well-known for his moviemaking methods: let the cameras roll and see what happens. His approach to “Green Zone” was no different.
“There’s a script, but that’s no more than a start for improvisation,” Jason Isaacs, who plays an Army major, told MTV News in September. “There’s no blocking. There’s no continuity. It changes every single time. [Paul] just throws you into the deep end. He creates what feels like chaos but is actually far from it. The whole thing is live, organic storytelling. As an actor, it pulls the rug out from under you.”
Or, as co-star Greg Kinnear put it, “[Paul] just throws you into the deep end,” adding, “I think that as an artist, he doesn’t paint with the same brush as everyone else. He has his own process. You’re sort of on your back foot when you’re working with this guy. You’re not sure what’s happening day to day. I think that’s where he wants it to be.”
Let the Search Begin
We got to see what Kinnear and Isaacs were talking about when the first trailer for the film arrived in October. It was pure “Bourne”-style action: Damon escaping from one precarious situation after another, emptying machine guns and delivering bone-crunching body blows as he goes. Yet alongside the action came serious and timely questions about the United States’ involvement in the Middle East, the veracity of war reporting and the trustworthiness of those in charge of keeping Americans safe.
Three clips that dropped in early March continued to hit those themes as we saw Damon’s character confronting the enemy, forthrightly challenging military leadership about the reliability of its on-the-ground intelligence and discussing his fruitless search for WMD with a journalist.
The War Hits Home
With only a few weeks to go until the film’s release, Damon, Greengrass and the cast hit the red carpet at the New York premiere for “Green Zone” to discuss their improvisatory collaboration and a third action thriller from the “Bourne” team.
“This is the classic thriller architecture where your protagonist starts with thinking one thing, realizes that things aren’t what they seem and then tries to figure out what’s going on,” Damon told MTV News. “It’s a very simple thing to follow, but if it’s done well, it’s really exciting.”
It’s also attracted criticism for what some say is an inaccurate portrayal of the U.S. effort in Iraq. But Damon doesn’t buy it. “It’s a movie about a guy who’s looking for WMD and they’re not there,” he told MTV News in a separate interview. “I don’t think that comes as news to anybody.”
Greengrass added: “It’s supposed to be a great, smart night in a movie theater. First and foremost, you’ve got to give people a ride. But if you give them something to talk about on the way home, that’s great. That’s what movies are meant to do.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Green Zone.”
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