First of all, it has Matt Damon. Strike one. Aside from Good Will Hunting, I can't think of any other movie Matt Damon has been in that doesn't have shaky-as-fuck camera angles. I am not in a position to judge any Hollywood actor on their acting skills, however I can judge a movie and its actors based on how much I want to throw up during chase scenes filmed by Michael J. Fox with a Fisher Price camcorder. Paul Greengrass directed the Bourne films as well as Green Zone, so I wasn't too surprised when my brain couldn't keep up with the "intense" action scenes that look like they just tied the camera to a car bumper and drove down the street.
Second, as usual, the uniforms are all dicked up as is the rank structure. Matt Damon is a CW2 in charge of a chemical corps unit. Some of his guys are clean shaven, some guys have full beards. One guy on the squad is about 400 lbs. There is no visible senior NCO or officer in charge. In one of the first scenes, Damon takes control of a cordon from an infantry lieutenant in charge of a platoon pinned down by a single sniper. CW2 Patton arrives on scene and appears to have the only M249 in country and is easily able to suppress and kill the sniper. I wasn't in Iraq during the invasion, but I think there were plenty of SAWs. Kind of exaggerated. Why don't these movies have military advisors? They could pay PVT Joe Snuffy from Fort Benning $100 to come over on a Saturday and show them how fucked up their stuff is.
Third, the plot. The theme of the movie is overall, how we fucked up the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq. The movie hints on how we fucked it up, but more or less beats around the bush. The book goes into much more detail: disbanding the Iraqi Army, letting 20 year old college interns attempt to convert Iraq into a democracy over night, and basically fucking shit up in general. This is pretty true, however, the movie ends abruptly after it tip toes around these statements, as every movie on Iraq does. There is no movie on OIF to date that continues the story to show how the surge worked, how the American military slammed AQI into the dirt and worked with the Iraqi people to turn them against the insurgency.
I wonder how many Americans actually know that we're doing so well there that we're drawing down, starting this summer? I went with a few buddies from school, and ran into a few guys from my unit in the audience. Catching up with them after, one girlfriend asked us, "So was it really like that? You got to hang out at the pool and drink martinis?" While discussing the upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, one of my buddies asked if we were still fighting there. When you hear crap like this, it's clear how these movies do so well with the civilian population. When you have no idea what's going on in the world, it's easy to be impressed by shitty movies with cool special effects.
The best part about this movie was that we saw it at some fancy new theater that gives a military discount to your entire party, and also has a bar inside.