Matt Damon has carved out quite an impressive Hollywood career for himself since the days of Good Will Hunting, and we’ve seen him portray everything from a hapless World War II soldier in Saving Private Ryan to a badass action hero Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity. Ironically, one of Damon’s less-seen and even lesser-appreciated films, a political thriller called Green Zone, was directed by Bourne Supremacy and Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass. And if you’re ready to see Matt Damon as you’ve never seen him before (even when he was shilling crypto), you should stream this film on Netflix.
Matt Damon and The Bourne Identity director Paul Greengrass reunited for the political thriller Green Zone about the US invasion of Iraq.
The title of Green Zone refers to the most common name given to the International Zone of Baghdad. Life in this region was particularly surreal during the 2003 invasion of Iraq by the United States, and journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran eventually wrote a book about his experiences there called Imperial Life in the Emerald City. Four years later, Matt Damon starred in Green Zone, an action thriller that mixes fictional and non-fictional events into a very captivating narrative.
As you have probably guessed, the Green Zone movie is very political in nature, and its plot presents some striking critiques of the American invasion of the Middle East.
This is made perhaps most clear by the fact that Matt Damon plays a US Army Chief Warrant Officer charged with finding Weapons of Mass Destruction hidden in the area, but he soon realizes that the information given to him is incorrect and that the Department of Defense is effectively circumventing his efforts to investigate the matter. Without getting into spoiler territory, the film explores whether WMDs ever existed and what the ramifications will be if they were never a real threat.
While Matt Damon is the big celebrity name attached to Green Zone, you should know the film is full of amazing actors, including Brendan Gleeson (best known for his killer performance in the film In Bruges) and Greg Kinnear (perhaps best known to audiences at the time for Little Miss Sunshine). We especially loved seeing Harry Potter star Jason Isaacs lend a bit of his particular movie magic to the film as a gruff special operations commander.
Green Zone failed to recoup its production budget at the box office, bringing in only $94 million against a budget of $100 million, but its since become one of Matt Damon’s many cult-classic films.
Paul Greengrass was attached to the film as a director early on, and he helped to develop an early script that adapted the aforementioned book. Given his close working relationship with the actor, it wasn’t really a surprise that he pushed to cast Matt Damon in Green Zone, and the studio wasted no time greenlighting a reunion between the actor and director. However, if the studio was expecting something similar to the Bourne films, they were in for a rude surprise once the final script by Brian Helgeland came in.
That’s because despite being a political thriller starring action icon Matt Damon, Green Zone was actually intended to be a political statement from Greengrass regarding the war in Iraq. He read extensive accounts and opinions about that war, and this soon made him reverse his position that the invasion of Iraq was justified. However, rather than turn the film into nothing more than his own small-budget political screed, Greengrass decided to create a larger and more ambitious film to cover this story from a variety of different angles.
And despite both the relevance of the director’s message and the proven audience draw of Matt Damon, Green Zone ruffled some feathers at the time, ultimately earning only $94.9 million against a budget of $100 million. It similarly failed to elicit critical appeal: on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a critical score of 53 percent.
That’s because despite being a political thriller starring action icon Matt Damon, Green Zone was actually intended to be a political statement from Greengrass regarding the war in Iraq.
However, the movie has garnered a strong cult following in the long years since it was first released, and in a Hollywood landscape where it feels like every film is a poor copy of Marvel’s formula (and Marvel is a poor copy of its old self), this film feels like a breath of fresh air.
Now that you can stream it on Netflix, it’s a no-brainer to watch Matt Damon do his thing in Green Zone. The movie has enough nonfiction in its plot to make history nerds happy and enough gripping fictional elements to keep everyone else riveted. Plus, between the current Hollywood strikes and the blazing summer heat, watching an old thriller from the comfort of your air-conditioned home is a perfect way to while away a lazy summer day.