This movie means well, I think. It’s trying to make the the giant fuck up with the second (third?) Gulf War into an entertaining conspiracy/action movie starring everyone’s favourite Action Hero of the Moment, Matt Damon.
The rest of this review contains mild SPOILERS!
The problem is that this film isn’t based in reality; rather it’s based in a really, really broadly fictionalized version of what happened during the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, which is so ridiculous that it has US soldiers shooting each other. (It’s all too obvious that the writers have not based on this on a real story well before the US soldiers start fighting with each other, but that just makes it all the more apparent.)
And that’s unfortunate, because it’s not wrong about certain things – like how ridiculous it was for the US to invade Iraq on the pretext of such demonstrably false information about WMDs – and because it gets other things right, such as the huge disconnect between the lives of the civilian administrators in the Green Zone and the lives of the average US soldiers serving in Iraq.
But the desire to turn this into a conspiracy movie where there are clear bad guys is just a giant distortion of what actually happened: ideologues jumped on bad intelligence to do something they had wanted to do since at least the previous Gulf War. And this movie fictionalizes so much of what happened that it ceases to be credible, even if I can sympathize with its motives.
That being said, it’s competently made and nobody embarrasses themselves (beyond the screenwriters!).
- Directed by Paul Greengrass
- Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lloyd Levin, Paul Greengrass
- Written by Brian Helgeland
- Based on Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajiv Chandrasekaran
- Matt Damon as Roy Miller, aN US Army chief warrant officer. Roy Miller is based on real-life Army Chief Warrant Officer Richard “Monty” Gonzales
- Amy Ryan as Lawrie Dayne, a foreign correspondent for The Wall Street Journal who investigates the Bush administration’s claims of the existence of weapons of mass destruction
- Brendan Gleeson as Martin Brown, the CIA Baghdad bureau chief, loosely based on Jay Garner
- Greg Kinnear as Clark Poundstone, U.S. Department of Defense Special Intelligence official
- Yigal Naor as General Mohammed Al Rawi, loosely based on the real-life informant Rafid Ahmed Alwan, a.k.a. “Curveball”
- Jerry Della Salla as Platoon Sergeant Wilkins
- Nicoye Banks as Perry
Jason Isaacs as Major Briggs
- Martin McDougall as Mr. Sheen, CIA Baghdad assistant bureau chief
- Khalid Abdalla as Freddy, an Iraqi Army veteran who lost his leg in 1987 during the Iran–Iraq War
- Michael O’Neill as Colonel Bethel
- Antoni Corone as Colonel Lyons
- Tommy Campbell as the Chopper Comms Commander
- Paul McIntosh as a CIA officer
- Sean Huze as Sergeant Conway
- Robert Harrison O’Neil as a TV Journalist
- Ben Sliney as the bureaucrat at VTC
- Said Faraj as Seyyed Hamza
- Abdul Henderson as Marshall
- Music by John Powell
- Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd
- Edited by Christopher Rouse
- Production companies: Working Title Films, StudioCanal, Relativity Media, Antena 3 Films
- Distributed by Universal Pictures
- Release date: February 26, 2010
- Running time: 115 minutes
- Countries: France, Spain, United States, United Kingdom
- Language: English, Arabic
- Budget: $100 million
- Box office: $94.9 million