Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on May 2010
Paul Greengrass imbues this fictional story about the chaotic days after the fall of Baghdad with some strong nonfictional elements, putting forward one of the more credible conspiracy theories. It focuses on the neocons’ second worst decision (after starting the war in the first place), of disbanding the Iraqi Army, which could conceivably have helped stabilize the post-invasion situation and prevented the insurrection from starting. The central character, an Army chief warrant officer (Matt Damon) tasked with tracking down those alleged WMDs, begins to doubt the intelligence he has been given when site after site turns up empty. Supported by a good(!) CIA guy (Brendan Gleeson) but thwarted by the Bush bureaucrat in charge (Greg Kinnear), the chief decides to unearth the truth, which means finding and enlisting a fleeing Iraqi general before the bureaucrat’s private force can neutralize him. Khalid Abdalla stands out as a conflicted translator. Remember that this is first and foremost an edge-of-your-seat thriller (Greengrass and Damon were co-conspirators on the last two Bourne flicks). Whether or not you will enjoy it, I suppose, comes down to where your political gullibilities lie.