The Big Picture

Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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Is 'Green Zone' really appallingly anti-American?

March 5, 2010 | 11:33 am

When it comes to healthcare legislation, congressional Republicans keep saying let's scrap the whole thing and start from scratch. That's sort of the way conservative bloggers feel about Hollywood movies, with an emphasis on the "scratch the whole thing" part of the equation. In fact, conservatives have been blasting away with all cylinders against the two leading Oscar movies, regularly attacking both "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" as being either anti-military or anti-American in general.

Green_zone_movie_poster_matt_damon_01 So it should come as no surprise to Universal Pictures that conservative bloggers are going to be lying in the weeds for the studio's upcoming Matt Damon-starring Iraq thriller, "Green Zone," especially since Damon is known in conservative circles as one of those bleeding-heart-liberal types. And sure enough, the New York Post film critic/blogger Kyle Smith, who's been pounding away on "The Hurt Locker" for months, has just seen "Green Zone" and, well, he's frothing-at-the-mouth crazy mad about it.

In fact, he admits that "if I were the kind of excitable guy who believes in boycotts, I'd say 'Boycott NBC-Universal' for its appalling new anti-American flick, 'Green Zone,' an absurdly awful would-be actioner that stars Matt Damon as a U.S. warrant officer in 2003 Baghdad."

What's gone so wrong with the picture, which after all, is directed by Paul Greengrass, who made the extraordinarily powerful 9/11 picture "United 93"? According to Smith, Greengrass' new film depicts some Americans as -- gasp -- the bad guys. In fact, he claims -- and I say claims, because other people who've attended early screenings of the film didn't see it this way at all -- that the film has sequences where "we're supposed to cheer because our soldiers are getting shot down -- but it's okay because they're evildoers at worst or stooges at best who are trying to kill the one guy in the country who can prevent an insurgency from taking root."

Smith also proposes the quasi-preposterous claim that the film's Judith Miller-like reporter character is portrayed as working for the Wall Street Journal rather than the New York Times "because Hollywood liberals can't accept that The Times ever gets anything wrong." In fact, according to my colleague John Horn, who just wrote a post about the fictionalized reporter character, "in the film's original screenplay, [the character] was identified as a reporter for the New York Times, but the legal departments at Universal Pictures and producing partner Working Title Films changed her affiliation to the Wall Street Journal so that audiences wouldn't confuse the character with an actual journalist."

I'm not so sure that the Journal will be flattered that a big studio film is portraying one of their reporters as being duped by government misinformation, especially when it was their arch rival whose reporter was the real dupe, but it seems clear that the studio did it for legal reasons, not political ones. But when conservatives ridicule Hollywood movies for their politics, it's a rarity for anyone to let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

But for those looking to make up their own mind about the film, "Green Zone" hits theaters March 12.

Recent and Related:

'Green Zone': The Wall Street Journal takes sniper fire

'Avatar' arouses conservatives' ire