In 2003, a few weeks after the U.S.’s shock and awe campaign in Iraq, Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) leads a WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) unit searching fruitlessly for bio weapons. He questions his superior officers regarding the Intel, but they quickly tell him it’s vetted and to just do his job. Men are being killed in these apparently useless soirées that are not yielding any weapons. CIA Baghdad bureau chief Gordon Brown (Brendan Gleeson) notices Miller’s skepticism and lets him know that he agrees that something doesn’t add up.
Miller and his team are handed another location to search for WMD. Digging holes to find a non-existent buried cache, he meets up with an injured Iraqi citizen “Freddy” (Khalid Abdalla) who brings him information about a suspicious meeting at a house close by. Miller decides to investigate and sights Al Rawi (Yigal Naor), who was one of Saddam's top aides. If anyone knows about WMD, it would be him. He uses Freddy as a translator when he questions some of Al Rawi’s men who were captured. Suddenly, a Special Forces unit swoops down from helicopters taking over their prisoners. One of them has a notebook which Miller slips to Freddy when Maj. Briggs (Jason Isaacs) roughly frisks him. Miller later takes the notebook to Brown, but he’s also usurped by an order from the Pentagon to turn it over. The notebook contains the safe houses for Al Rawi’s and his men.
Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan) is a foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. She had been slipped information about the WMD. When she confronts Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) of Pentagon Special Intelligence to interview the source “Magellan”, she is given the run around.
Miller connects the dots that the Intel they are using to look for WMD is from Magellan. He questions Dayne, who confesses that she never investigated the validity of her newspaper articles. Meanwhile Poundstone sends out his Special Forces unit to find Al Rawi and make him a hard target.
This is Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon’s first collaboration outside the Jason Bourne realm. The events in the story had been 'inspired' by" the non-fiction 2006 book Imperial Life in the Emerald City by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran. The Green Zone is the heavily guarded diplomatic / government area of closed-off streets in central Baghdad where U.S. occupation authorities live and work
The movie is shot with the shaky cam style that is supposed to make you feel as if you are part of the action as it happens. There is a lot of shooting and mayhem. It particularly shows the damage that war brings to cities, homes, and populace. This movie comes on the heels of The Hurt Locker winning at the Academy Awards, which is an infinitely better movie. Matt Damon plays Roy with the same character crusade of doing the right thing no matter what as with Jason Bourne. Some may not agree with the political overtones of the story, but if you can keep track of the messy plot and not lose your lunch from all the bouncing, it will give you something to think about, such as what really happened to those WMD. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)