New Matt Damon movie may bring Iraq war into mainstream

Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:19pm EST
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - They conjured box office magic with their "Bourne" spy movies, but Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass risk their reputation as sure-fire hitmakers when the Iraq war thriller "Green Zone" debuts on Friday.

The action movie, which reunites A-list actor Damon and Greengrass, an accomplished director, aims to be the first big movie about the ongoing Iraq war to break through to mainstream U.S. audiences.

Buoyed by the success of "The Hurt Locker," a low-budget movie that won the Oscar for best film on Sunday, "Green Zone" is banking on audiences' hunger to watch an account of some of the U.S. intelligence failures tied to the 2003 Iraq invasion.

"We have made a genuine attempt to make a mainstream action thriller set in the real (Iraq) world. And that's what makes it really different ... it's a big movie," Damon told Reuters.

But how well can it do at box offices? "The truth is, I don't know, because it is the first one," he said.

Backed by a reported $100 million budget, Damon plays a character based on real-life Army officer, Richard Gonzales, whose Mobile Exploitation Team was charged with finding Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) during the invasion.

The film stems from reporter Rajiv Chandrasekaran's 2006 nonfiction book "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone," a behind-the-scenes account of the Bush administration appointees who ran Iraq after the invasion.

Greengrass used the same crew as on the hit "Bourne" movies and the same shaky, hand-held camera style to follow Damon weaving and ducking through Baghdad's streets trying to learn why U.S. intelligence failed to find WMDs.   Continued...

<p>Actor Matt Damon poses for photographers as he arrives at the World Premiere of "Green Zone" in New York City February 25, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>