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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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Philip Neri: Philip Neri was a sign of contradiction, combining popularity with piety against the background of a corrupt Rome and a disinterested clergy, the whole post-Renaissance malaise. 
<p>At an early age, he abandoned the chance to become a businessman, moved to Rome from Florence and devoted his life and individuality to God. After three years of philosophy and theology studies, he gave up any thought of ordination. The next 13 years were spent in a vocation unusual at the time—that of a layperson actively engaged in prayer and the apostolate. </p><p>As the Council of Trent (1545-63) was reforming the Church on a doctrinal level, Philip’s appealing personality was winning him friends from all levels of society, from beggars to cardinals. He rapidly gathered around himself a group of laypersons won over by his audacious spirituality. Initially they met as an informal prayer and discussion group, and also served poor people in Rome. </p><p>At the urging of his confessor, he was ordained a priest and soon became an outstanding confessor, gifted with the knack of piercing the pretenses and illusions of others, though always in a charitable manner and often with a joke. He arranged talks, discussions and prayers for his penitents in a room above the church. He sometimes led “excursions” to other churches, often with music and a picnic on the way. </p><p>Some of his followers became priests and lived together in community. This was the beginning of the Oratory, the religious institute he founded. A feature of their life was a daily afternoon service of four informal talks, with vernacular hymns and prayers. Giovanni Palestrina was one of Philip’s followers, and composed music for the services. </p><p>The Oratory was finally approved after suffering through a period of accusations of being an assembly of heretics, where laypersons preached and sang vernacular hymns! (Cardinal Newman founded the first English-speaking house of the Oratory three centuries later.) </p><p>Philip’s advice was sought by many of the prominent figures of his day. He is one of the influential figures of the Counter-Reformation, mainly for converting to personal holiness many of the influential people within the Church itself. His characteristic virtues were humility and gaiety.</p> American Catholic Blog We need do no more than we are doing at present; that is, to love divine Providence and abandon ourselves in his arms and heart.<br />—St. Padre Pio

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