As he steps off the Rugby Field, Matt Damon discovers how much less simple life is in Eye-Raq than it was in Clint's version of South Africa. Murky, devious so-and-so’s wheel and deal, and even the line between right and wrong has gone bendy. The CIA have a safe full of million dollar packs and they’re the good guys for a change. Young interns swagger and binge around the pool, and the walls of the palace are lined with silly political slogans designed to persuade everybody, against the evience of their own eyes, that the whole thing is a rightous, er, crusade.
Rajiv Chandrasekaran was Washington Post man in the Green Zone. In Imperial Life in the Emerald City, he knoweth whereof he speaketh. As the streets descend into anarchy and GI’s do increasingly dangerous and dirty work, fantasy reigns in Halliburton’s neocon disneyland. Where once Saddam’s republican guard strutted their stuff, George W. Bush’s, er republican guard is depicted in a thoroughly believable way, strutting its stuff around the pool. Occasional flashes of French door furniture indicate that in this film Iraq is played by Morocco.
This action caper is based on, rather than drawn from, Chandrasekaran’s factual book. Matt Damon is an clean-cut GI over there to clear up those pesky WMD’s, round up Saddam like a Raccoon, etc. etc. Much of this flm is shot on a not-so-steadycam yielding an occasionally dizzying documentary effect like a computer wargame. This technique will engage and please the young more than bifocal wearers. Saddam has legged it, but not his chum General Al-Rawi who, it turns out, has his own interesting past with the U. S. Government. A lot of doors get kicked in and henchpersons shot, but the good guys kinda win in the end.
I suspect that unless you are a complete wargaming nut, in which case, enjoy, your reactions to the film will line up around your take on the Iraq war. If you believe that it was a good idea, and the prospectus on which it was started was decent, legal honest and truthful you will feel affronted that such a film could be imagined, let alone made. Fox News, which believes everybody should ignore the government at home paradoxically also believes everything republican governments do abroad is, ipso facto, decent, legal, honest and truthful.
Back on planet earth, it is becoming evident as the enquiries unfold that you can argue with the details, but a squalid and confused fantasy-based computer game is not that far away from the way historians will view the Iraq War. There were no WMD’s twenty minutes away from Cyprus. In this regard Saddam’s brutal regime was all mouth and no trousers. The war’s whole prospectus was dishonest, and our politicans knew it but lied to us. Brave people took big risks, money flowed like water, and several hundred thousand innocent civilians died. You couldn’t make this stuff up.