Green Zone (UK - BD)
Our Marcus follows Matt Damon around Iraq while he looks for WMDs in HD....
2003. Iraq. Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon) and his squad are in search of the country's weapons of mass destruction. Despite seemingly accurate insider information, all of the targeted sites are coming up empty and Miller begins to suspect something isn’t right.
Head of the operation Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) insists that the information is accurate and his plans for the future of Iraq come from a heavily guarded and hidden source. However when CIA officer Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) and journalist Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan) inform Miller that Poundstone and the men from Washington’s motivations aren’t as clear cut as helping Iraq’s people to rebuild, the Chief sets out on a personal mission to find out the truth.
I’d heard mixed things about Green Zone and in all honesty I wasn’t in the biggest rush to see it. The general consensus seemed to be that Universal made a mistake advertising it as another Bourne movie, despite the re-pairing of Damon and Greengrass, and really all I expected was another movie along the lines of Syriana, which while great was more of a lesson in current affairs than a movie.
Well I don’t know if it was just low expectations but I really quite enjoyed Green Zone. Greengrass manages to do this sort of thing with ease and for a movie that relies heavily on getting the information across he’s not afraid to do it at pace and expect the audience to keep up as opposed to catering to the viewers who might be a bit slow on the uptake.
I thought Matt Damon was solid here as well. He’s usually great anyway, but for some reason his movie choices can sometimes bore me a little until I actually sit down to watch them and I’m proven wrong. Green Zone proves this yet again! What I liked here was his ability to play a guy out to do the right thing despite all the battling elements around him. In a way he reminded me of Harrison Ford in the Jack Ryan movies, in that all around him is pretty heavy real world political pressures fighting against one another but at the centre of it is our lead actor, who is still a movie star and is going to sort this problem out no matter who he pisses off. Like Harrison Ford, Matt Damon gives us an everyman we can connect with and I wanted to see him fix the world's problems.
At the end of the day, Green Zone isn’t Bourne Four but Greengrass and Damon have used Bourne to enable them to make a movie that delves into an issue that kept the world guessing for far too long. The pair keep it clear and full of details and at every step we get a whole lot of insight into just how dirty this war was and more than likely still is. It’s a brave move but with Greengrass's superb sense of pace and action and Matt Damon channelling old school Harrison Ford I for one thought it was a great one.
Green Zone offers up a great looking 2:40 widescreen transfer. It has the Greengrass filmic grain we’ve come to expect since Bourne (especially in the lower lit scenes, of which there are many) but the scenes that are set outside in the bright midday sun look absolutely terrific.
Having a whole host of movies set in the Middle East recently, many of us have grown accustomed to the dusty colour palettes. There are plenty of natural colours and many, many versions of beige, from dusty covered cars to US Army uniforms but with sun light that bright this HD transfer can do nothing but thrive.
Textures are well captured, blacks are deep (which is lucky because the action packed finale really spends most of its time bathed in darkness outside of the odd beautifully glowing explosion) and generally there’s little to complain about (though I'm sure some of the grain haters will find a few issues with the last act). This transfer really offers up the goods and while Greengrass's filmmaking style doesn't enable this to be a consistently impressive HD presentation but when it is, it's marvelous.
One again Green Zone offers up the good stuff. This DTS-HD Master Audio track is a bit of a show-off, always offering up some form of atmospheric to widen the range and really cutting loose when Greengrass wants you pulled into the action.
I found myself counting the elements within some of the heavier scenes. You have the soldiers scuffing feet on the sandy ground, their gunfire (sounding all kinds of Michael Mann style realistic), the shells littering around the floor, the sound of locals fleeing or shouting, the distant sound of another gun battle, general street ambience... the list really could go on because the track here really has a whole lot going on.
On a slight downside, I sometimes felt the drop in dialogue was a little too far when hopping from a gunfight to a Greg Kinnear led dialogue scene. It was slight but I felt my remote finger wanting to inch the sound up a little here and there (only to jump back on to inch it down when the gunfire exploded again). I feel bad bringing up this tiny gripe when the rest of the track is so impressive. The great bass sells every single bit of power from explosions to sweeping helicopters, incredibly realistic gunfire and action and a general realism to the ambience of the location that just does everything a great audio track should.
Besides the standard BD Live, we get a set of deleted scenes (12:27 HD) with video commentary featuring Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon (as well as Greengrass’s son Kit sitting and watching along).
There’s also a video commentary track that really shows the pair's vision for the movie. Greengrass delivers a little more detail, on both the making of the movie and the real world events it’s based on and leads the way for the most part leaving Damon to throw in more than his two cents worth, where he feels it appropriate to expand.
‘Matt Damon: Ready For Action’ (09:47 HD) shows Mr Damon as he surrounds himself with the real soldiers in the movie and how he does his best to become one of them.
‘Inside the Green Zone’ (08:53 HD) is a fairly short and sweet making of, briefly giving us a history of the true stories the movie is based on and the difficulties of the shoot as well as plenty more input from Greengrass.
‘The Real Miller’ (06:20) takes an even closer look at the man Matt Damon’s character is semi-based on and a little more background into the teams hunting for WMD’s back in 2003.
‘Recreating Baghdad’ (03:17 HD) shows the scouting for locations and why they wound up in Morocco and how it was changed to achieve the look the movie required.
U-Control is the usual pop up video adding small making of segments with interviews and on set movie making. This covers thirteen of the twenty scenes and is a nice mixture of behind the scenes and cast and crew conversations, adding to the experience of watching the movie.
I'm not sure how quickly I'd rush back for a repeat viewing but I found Green Zone to be a thoroughly entertaining look at a pretty convoluted set of events in recent history.
The Blu-ray provides a great video transfer and an even better audio presentation and despite the featurettes being a little on the short side, the video commentary and U-Control PiP stuff makes up for it, so all in all another great release from Universal.
* Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 12th July 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 2.0 Audio Description. DTS 5.1 German, DTS 5.1 Spanish
Subtitles: English SDH, German, Spanish, Cantonese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, Traditional Mandarin
Extras: Commentary with Director Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon, Deleted Scenes Featurettes
Easter Egg: No
Director: Paul Greengrass
Cast: Matt Damon, Greg Kinnear, Brendan Gleeson
Genre: Action, Drama and War
Length: 114 minutes