Who's In It: Matt Damon, Brendan Gleeson, Greg Kinnear, Amy Ryan
The Basics: It's 2003 and Matt Damon--as Bourne The Army Captain--discovers that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Holy cow, now what?! Run around like Bourne, of course, blowing the whistle about how the former presidential administration cooked up the intelligence they wanted to hear so they could go in and do what they wanted. Along the way our not-hero gets involved in all kinds of scrapes and battles (even with the Iraqis he's trying to help) and confounds the guys in charge, committing acts of violence while condemning acts of violence and shining a bright megawatt light of anti-Bush correctness all over the unwinnable war. In other words, it's like Inglourious Basterds but without the fun.
What's The Deal: This movie wants to be more than just about all the cool fighting. It wants to make a statement about how wrong the United States has been for the past 10 years. And that's fine. If you need to have your progressive opinions about the war confirmed and The Daily Show hasn't been enough, then you go see it. If you prefer to chant "USA! USA!" while enjoying the torture of superterrorists then stay home and watch 24 instead. But if you don't care about anything at all and all you actually want from an action movie is the cool fighting, you'll want to trade in this lesser Bourne-like exercise for the other ones that came before. They're smarter, too, weirdly enough.
What You Can't Accuse It Of: Relying totally on hindsight. It's based (loosely) on Rajiv Chandrasekaran's 2006 nonfiction book Imperial Life in the Emerald City, which was critical of U.S. military action while it was happening. You'd have to have not been paying attention to any news to be aware that something was wrong with the motives and methods of declaring war on Iraq. But...
What You Can Accuse It Of: Simplistic, shallow declarations of rightness that come off like a scolding, "YOU GO THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU'VE DONE!" and for letting its based-on-real-life people off the moral hook for the sake of shaping a story. There's also the trademark Paul Greengrass visual style that so many people seem to love, but to me just feels like motion-sickness-as-cinematography. Sure it does all that swooping and jittering and blurro-vision and keeps the action coherent. I get the accomplishment. I just can't keep my eyes on it for very long or it makes me want like I'm on a Tilt-a-Whirl and about to barf up cotton candy.
See Also Or, Rather, Instead: No End In Sight, the 2007 documentary about the same subject. There's no fun involved in viewing it. And it's densely packed with more unhappy facts and news footage and interviews than you'll know what to do with. But at least you won't leave it with a false sense of Matt Damon having come in to save everything.