Geneartion Kill, the true account of a Marine Corps Recon Battalion during the 2003 invasion of Iraq is the modern warfare equivalent of World War II’s Band of Brothers. We enter the story following a Marine Recon Unit on a training exercise, then when they get back to base, in the desert outside of Iraq, we are introduced to Evan ‘Scribe’ Wright, a reporter who is about to be embedded with the Recon Battalion during their foray into Iraq.
Whilst some may disagree with my comparing generation Kill to Band of Brothers, it has some very similar threads; we follow the same group of American soldiers through the length of the war, witnessing some of the major battles of the conflict. As a historical account we have to allow for some artistic freedom, and as with history in general, we don’t get to have tightly scripted action packed episodes every week, with killer cliffhangers. In fact some episodes are seemingly devoid of any reason to watch them, as they plod on at a pace and direction that could be considered mind numbing. But hopefully by this stage you will have realised that Generation Kill isn’t really about huge battle scenes (though there are some spectacular battles) but more about how the American war machine is still an organisational nightmare that only manages to win battles through sheer luck – along with well trained soldiers – rather than any tactical brilliance.
The biggest difference between Gneration Kill and Band of Brothers is that generation kill is almost a black comedy. The Marine Recon Battalion receives their battle gear for the desert war, only to discover that it is Woodland camouflage, not particularly suited for desert warfare, and this is only the beginning of their problems. Given only un-armoured humvees they are repeatedly sent into areas where Iraqi faces have already beaten back tank assaults, ordered to drive through enemy territory at night without enough batteries for their night vision and no thermal vision aids what so ever. Supplies are sporadic and at times they are reduced to one meal a day – though they always seem to have pop-tarts – and this from the most modern and capable fighting army in the world.
The characters them selves are a mixed bunch, and they are the life of the story. A bunch of guys thrown together fighting a war that they all have different views on, some ready to go out and kill, others more cautious. But all end up being disgusted by the actions of their superiors. Be it for not allowing them to engage the enemy, to being forced to ignore the rules of the Geneva Convention, to being given a clear order to shoot on sight any Iraqi, no matter if they are armed or not.
Generation Kill is not a very flattering look at the Marine Corps, or the American military as a whole. What it does show you however is that most of the men lower down the chain of command are decent human beings with a humanitarian focussed but tactically capable brain inside their Kevlar helmets.
Generation Kill might not supply the adrenaline rush of a big budget Hollywood action flick, but as always, this HBO series is a well crafted masterpiece, and rather that rot our brains with candyfloss, attempt to get the viewer to engage their brains and really think about the hidden aspects of modern warfare.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read
Rating: [R16] Contains violence, sexual references and offensive language
Starring: Lee Tergesen, Jon Huertas, Stark Sands, Skarsg Rd , James Ransone , Billy Lush
Genre: TV Series
Screen Format: 1.33:1
Year Of Production: 2008
Label: Warner Home Video