A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this suspenseful war thriller is brimming with tense scenes and battle sequences, all of which include gunfire. Characters are almost always armed, mostly with automatic firearms though sometimes with knives, and skirmishes exact brutal, bloody casualties (bombs detonate; soldiers hemorrhage after being shot). Language is often coarse, including multiple uses of "f--k" and "s--t."
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Roy Miller (Matt Damon), a U.S. Army chief warrant officer, is in charge of a unit scouring Iraq for weapons of mass destruction. The United States of America is about to go to war primarily on the strength of this damning intelligence, which has been reported in the press by a journalist (Amy Ryan) who’s now wondering if she’s been had. After failing to find any WMDs at various sites he’s been told to investigate, Miller realizes the information is bunk, especially after a local (Khalid Abdalla) tips him off to a clandestine meeting of powerful Iraqis. A CIA agent (Brendan Gleeson) encourages Miller to dig for a truth that might be buried in the highest levels of government, but a hawkish politico (Greg Kinnear) is on his trail.
Is it any good?
GREEN ZONE is terrifically entertaining, a tension-filled ride that brings viewers right to the heart of the action. The movie was inspired by the bestselling nonfiction account by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone. The listlessness, the confusion in those early days of the conflict in Iraq feels genuine, enhanced by director Paul Greengrass’ kinetic, shaky-camera tableau.
Still, disbelief has to be firmly suspended, if only because it’s hard to buy into the idea that one person -- a small group would’ve been more credible -- could manipulate an entire nation’s decision to go to war and yet another lone wolf is the only one to figure it out. (Again, one man designated to save the country from war?) Greengrass might have helped make Damon the thinking man’s action star with the Bourne movies, but placing a militarized Bourne facsimile into the middle of a geo-political situation of already monumental proportions, one that recalls real-life controversies like the media’s WMD reporting (or misreporting, as it were), seems not only redundant but distracting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the premise of the movie: How is it possible that a decision as important as whether a country should go to war hinges on false information? What happens afterward when the truth eventually is revealed? How does it affect the citizens of that country?
What is the film saying about war? About the men and women who are sent to war zones? Is it believable that someone like Miller would go rogue? How did all the violence affect you?
Does this movie make you reflect on real-life events that inspired it? Your thoughts?
- In theaters: March 12, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: June 22, 2010
- Cast: Amy Ryan, Brendan Gleeson, Greg Kinnear, Khalid Abdalla, Matt Damon
- Director: Paul Greengrass
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and language
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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