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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Green Zone

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The early stages of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the ultimately fruitless search for the Saddam regime's weapons of mass destruction, provide the context for "Green Zone" (Universal), an idealistic but raw combat drama.

Loosely inspired by journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran's 2007 best-seller "Imperial Life in the Emerald City," this is the fictional tale of dedicated Army Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller (Matt Damon). Frustrated that his unit's hunt for the weapons of mass destruction that served as the justification for American intervention has led only to a series of dead ends, Miller begins to question the validity of the intelligence reports on which he and his comrades have been relying.

His doubts bring him to the attention of two feuding residents of the titular American enclave within the Iraqi capital: Defense Department official and ideologue Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear), who's wholly indifferent as to how the conflict began so long as Iraq can be transformed into a functioning democracy, and rogue CIA station chief Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson), a veteran Middle East analyst who believes the entire operation rests on a foundation of lies and fabrications.

Miller's pursuit of the truth also leads him to Wall Street Journal reporter Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan), whose series of pre-war articles on the dangers posed by Saddam's weapons program had helped fuel public support for the offensive, pro-American local Freddy (Khalid Abdalla), who's willing to endanger himself to help secure a better future for his country, and former Saddam ally Gen. Ayad Hamza (Aymen Hamdouchi).

Hamza's out to strike a political bargain with the new occupiers, failing which, he's prepared to help launch a nationwide insurgency.

The subjects of just war and political truth telling are obviously worthy themes, especially the very timely issue of whether a preemptive strike can ever meet the criteria for a morally acceptable use of force according to the standards of traditional Catholic teaching.

But director Paul Greengrass' uneasy mix of political conspiracy yarn and action adventure increasingly takes on the qualities of a personal crusade by Miller, thereby blunting Brian Helgeland's script's ability to dissect larger questions of real-life morality. And the occasionally gritty scenes of battle and captivity, together with the persistently salty dialogue—all, perhaps, accurate enough—further restrict the appeal of this well-intentioned but flawed war story.

The film contains considerable action violence, some of it bloody, torture, several uses of profanity and frequent rough and crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.




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Catherine of Siena: The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. 
<p>She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation. </p><p>She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374. </p><p>Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope </p><p>In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461. </p><p>Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in <i>The Dialogue</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. Gates of sin melt in the presence of saving grace; gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life; gates of falsehood collapse in the presence of living truth; gates of violence are flattened in the presence of divine love. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped his Church.

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