Green Zone Puts the Hurt on The Hurt Locker
Having been out just two weeks, Green Zone is getting mixed reviews. I saw it with my wife last Thursday. It's being compared to The Hurt Locker, which won six Academy Awards in 2009. While the production and enjoyment of movies is about many things: aesthetics, acting, expanding the mind, making money, having fun... we should never forget that it is also about transmitting political messages. Green Zone's political message is satisfying and properly revisionist — and this will be its box-office advantage.
While the plot of The Hurt Locker follows a U.S. Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit, Green Zone follows a Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) disposal unit. There are plenty of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to be found in Iraq, which drives much of the action in The Hurt Locker. But no WMDs were ever found in Iraq after the US invasion, even though WMDs were proffered by the US government and parroted by the mainstream media as the primary justification for the Iraqi invasion. This is what drives the psychological action in Green Zone.
In Green Zone, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) suspects foul play after being ordered to empty site after empty site to secure WMDs on supposedly rock-solid intelligence. After being given the run-around by Army higher-ups, Miller is approached by CIA operative Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), who knows that there is no WMD and knows what must be done to restore order in post-invasion Iraq. Miller joins Brown in gathering further intelligence using local sources and carrying out the CIA plan, which is at cross-purposes with the Army's plan. As the viewer comes to find out, neither plan is a good one.
Green Zone is full of true-to-life moments. The Army soldiers grind an Iraqi into the dirt for the supposed offense of approaching Army soldiers to tell them something. An American soldier, working closely with an Iraqi, questions his intentions many times, causing the Iraqi to finally explode in rage and explain that he is helping the Americans not because of money, but because he loves his country and wants the life of his family and community and country to improve. Ultimately, as it should be, the actions of Iraqis drive the final outcome of the plot, revealing the American soldiers as pawns in a twisted game.
After the showing I sat through, the couple in front of my wife and I remarked, “Wow, pretty interesting, huh?” It's a rare movie that gets strangers talking after a show.
While The Hurt Locker's political message might be summed up as “terrorism is real and it is fought by special men at great personal sacrifice,” Green Zone's political message is a much more reasonable one: “politicians lie us into war, bureaucracies operate at cross-purposes, and real good comes from the ethics and action of individuals, not governments and armies.”
It's not hard to predict that the lead actor responsible for such box-office winners as Good Will Hunting, The Bourne Identity franchise, and the Ocean's Eleven franchise will lead movie-goers to give Green Zone a try. The revisionist political message will resonate with many viewers, and they will encourage others to see it.
In two weeks, Green Zone has already grossed an estimated $59 million. In 26 weeks, The Hurt Locker has grossed only $26 million. Hooray for Green Zone and the dollar-votes of the American people, who have already shown that their interests lie not with the social deviants that enjoy disarming bombs so much as to forsake their families, but with heroic people that try to do good despite the lies of politicians and the machinations of bureaucracies.
May Green Zone become the top political thriller of the year!
March 30, 2010
Gil Guillory [send him mail], P.E., PMP, is an engineer and project manager of petrochemical projects, libertarian writer and activist, and entrepreneur. He ran for Congress on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2000 and 2002. He worked in Iraq for 6 months in 2003 after the US invasion assessing damage and repairing chemical plants for KBR. He recently won the O P Alford III Prize in libertarian scholarship for a paper published in Libertarian Papers.
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