Paul Greengrass’ Iraq War thriller Green Zone follows a US Army officer (Matt Damon) who discovers there’s a government conspiracy at work to dupe Americans into believing Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.” As to be expected, right-wingers have called the movie “anti-American,” while U.S. critics have given it mixed reviews.
An expensive production – $100 million, plus marketing and distribution costs – Green Zone took in only $14.5 million at the North American box office on its debut weekend, following a pattern of poor receipts for film productions set in Iraq. Unless Green Zone does exceedingly well on home video and pay per view, Universal and partner Relativity Films will in all likelihood lose a lot of money on this one. Not helping matters is the fact that the film’s overseas box office hasn’t been all that promising, with less than $10 million earned in several key territories.
Also in the Green Zone cast: Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson, and Amy Ryan.
Update: Paul Greengrass’ Green Zone turned out to be a major box office dud for distributor Universal Pictures.
Consensus: Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass return to the propulsive action and visceral editing of the Bourne films – but a cliched script and stock characters keep those methods from being as effective this time around. Rotten Tomatoes.
“Green Zone looks at an American war in a way almost no Hollywood movie ever has: We’re not the heroes, but the dupes. Its message is that Iraq’s fabled ‘weapons of mass destruction’ did not exist, and that neocons within the administration fabricated them, lied about them and were ready to kill to cover up their deception. … Green Zone, directed by Paul Greengrass, is a thriller that makes no claim to be based on fact, but provides characters and situations that have uncanny real-life parallels.” Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times.
“You have to hand it to Green Zone. Made with daring and passion, it attempts the impossible and comes remarkably close to pulling it off. So close, in fact, that the skill and audacity used, the shock and awe of this highly entertaining attempt, are more significant than the imperfect results.” Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times.
“In Green Zone, director Paul Greengrass brings the frenetic, run-and-gun style with which he utterly transformed the movie thriller in the Jason Bourne series to a different kind of thriller, one with a sharper political edge. For Green Zone explores the Bush administration’s willingness to embrace palpable lies over murky truths in order to sell the Iraq War to the American public.” Kirk Honeycutt in The Hollywood Reporter.
Photos: Green Zone (Jasin Boland / Universal)
“Similarly, Green Zone comes off as a picture made by a person with a brain as well as a conscience, though the movie’s big flaw may be its unblinking insistence that we’ve been lied to – you don’t have to read too much between the lines to see how adamant Greengrass is about that fact, though he isn’t telling us anything particularly new. Stephanie Zacharek at Salon.com.
“Better late than never—a bang-bang pulse-pounder predicated on the Bush administration’s deliberate fabrication of WMD in Iraq. Paul Greengrasss’ expertly assembled Green Zone has evidently been parked for some time on Universal’s shelf. Had the movie been released during the 2008 election season, it might have been something more than entertainment. Still, Green Zone, which could have more accurately been titled Told You So, Jerk-Off!, does gain some coincidental topicality for opening just days after the Iraqi elections and the release of Karl Rove’s new book, Courage and Consequence, even if the zeitgeist has moved on, with the unwinnable war now in Afghanistan and the Bush disaster barely a memory.” J. Hoberman in The Village Voice.
“But like all of the best action filmmakers — including Kathryn Bigelow, justly rewarded at this week’s Academy Awards for her stringent, soulful work on The Hurt Locker — Mr. Greengrass has never been interested in technique for its own sake. Action under pressure is, for him, a test and a revelation of character. The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum refined this axiom to its philosophical essence. Mr. Damon’s character in those movies never knew who he was until he saw what he did.” A. O. Scott in the New York Times.
“Director Paul Greengrass is working his way through recent American history, but it’s giving him a bad case of the shakes. His latest, “Green Zone,” which dramatizes how bureaucratic arrogance and stupidity ended up pouring gasoline on the Iraq insurgency, is watchable in spite of Greengrass as much as because of him. The story is good enough to make viewers want to ignore the photography.” Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Photo: Green Zone (Jasin Boland / Universal)
‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ Reviews
Based on Stieg Larsson’s bestseller, Niels Arden Oplev’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has become an international box office sensation. The dark thriller-horror mystery stars European Film Award nominee Noomi Rapace as a computer hacker who helps a journalist (Michael Nyqvist) in his attempt to solve the decades-old disappearance of a young Swedish heiress.
Below are a few snippets from several reviews by US-based critics:
“Swedish director Niels Arden Oplev faithfully and intelligently transfers the first volume of Stieg Larsson’s hugely popular detective trilogy to the screen. … [T]he key to the film’s effectiveness is the casting of Rapace, who, while not mapping quite exactly to the book’s physical descriptions, is riveting.” Andy Klein in The Christian Science Monitor.
“The Lisbeth you know from the books … has already been found. Her name is Noomi Rapace and she owns the part. If I were Portman, Knightley or Stewart, I’d be shaking in my boots. Actually, this Lisbeth could scare Jason Bourne.” Mary Pols in Time.
“According to recent industry news, David Fincher is already considering directing a remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo … But it’s hard to say what the director of Seven and Zodiac could bring to a film that’s already as dark, moody, and vice-focused as Seven, and as intricately procedural as Zodiac. Niels Arden Oplev’s Dragon adaptation is already a poisonous gem, in large part thanks to fearless performances and an unwaveringly graphic sensibility that doesn’t flinch at the most horrific parts of Larsson’s story.” Tasha Robinson in The A.V. Club.
“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a potboiler but entertaining enough to rise above its flaws, which include a 152-minute run time. Those who stick it out will see an especially dark murder mystery that presents Swedish society as corrupt and profoundly antagonistic to women.” Walter Addiego in the San Francisco Chronicle.
“ It’s the rare 2 1/2 -hour film that doesn’t make you look at your watch once. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is such a film. It isn’t so much the pacing. … Rather, like a good book, the plot is so engrossing, the characters so rich and complex, the mood of gloom mixed with glimmers of hope so all-encompassing that the thought of its actually ending never occurs to you.” Michael O’Sullivan in the Washington Post.
Distributed by Music Box, the Swedish thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is faring much better. At only 87 theaters, the 2h40 million film starring Noomi Rapace as a computer hacker helping to solve a series of grisly crimes grossed $483,000 ($5,598 per screen) over the weekend and $1.47 million total.
Had a major studio distributed it – with millions spent on marketing – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo could have become a blockbuster in the United States, much like it has elsewhere. The old Miramax, which managed to turn unlikely foreign-language fare into domestic box office hits is sorely missed.