Star Rating:

Green Zone

Director: Paul Greengrass

Actors: Matt Damon, Brendan Gleeson

Release Date: Monday 30th November -0001

Genre(s): Action, Adventure

Running time: 115 minutes

Absolutely zipping along at break neck pace from the opening frames, Green Zone is a smart, explosive and thoroughly entertaining couple of hours. Reteaming Matt Damon with his Bourne Supremacy and Ultimatum director, Paul Greengrass, it's being flogged to audiences as 'Bourne in Iraq', but there is no super spy here - just a solider looking for answers.

Greengrass and co have managed to build a character we care about, without giving us anything remotely resembling a background. We don't know where this guy is from, or if he's married, we just know he's in Iraq and genuinely believes he's doing the right thing - until he struggles to find any of The Weapons of Mass Destruction the hierarchy told him to look for. It's a testament to Damon's charisma and versatility as an actor that you like this guy, even when functioning squarely as a man-on-a-mission. Not many actors can bang out sleazy corporate informant, South African rugby captain and noble marine in quick succession, and make every one of them work.

Chief of one of the units looking for WMD's in Iraq not long after the allies have invaded, Damon and his team are coming up empty at every turn and seemingly losing good men for nothing. Attempting to figure out what's going on, he's told to "go find something we can hold up on CNN." But Brendan Gleeson's CIA Agent has different ideas and gives the solider a mission that causes conflict with his superiors, and ruffles feathers deep into the shady administration.

Based on the book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, this dramatically staged account follows the book's line of not questioning why America was there in the first place, and instead looks at how the months after the initial invasion were handled. Trying to export their own particular brand of democracy has never worked for America, and the director has plenty to say about that, but just does so in the guise of an action film.

Greengrass has seemingly mastered the knack of making two hours in a cinema seat feel like about twenty minutes - leaving everyone with their head spinning around as the final credits role. Not quite of the standard of his last couple of films, it still makes its point smartly and on a large, accessible scale. Hardly the explosion-a-minute action-fest the trailers would have you believe, Green Zone is instead a blockbuster with brains - and some explosions.