11 July 2016 | bayardhiler
Captures The Full Chaos and Absurdity of War
I had heard of "Generation Kill" when it premiered in 2008, but was unable to view since I do not have HBO. So I forgot about it for a while until some time ago I was looking around at the local library when I just happened to sight this little, television masterpiece, and decided, especially in light of what the result of our adventure in Iraq has been in the last few years, to give it a chance. And though I can't say "Generation Kill" was necessarily my favorite viewing experience, I'm glad I did. Based off of the memoirs of a Rolling Stone reporter embedded with the 1st Marine Recon Unit during the first days of the US invasion of Iraq, it begins on the eve of that faithful event by introducing the viewer to the men of 1st Marine Recon (many of whom are based off of real life Marines), their code, standards, and every day experience. When they learn that the invasion is going ahead, they also learn that a reporter from Rolling Stone will be coming with them. Initially reluctant to having a greenhorn tag along with them, they warm up to the young writer when they learn he used to write for Penthouse, a magazine many of these young, red blooded males are familiar with! Through the production, we see the course of events through the eyes of the Marines and their "hang around" in a the most unsugar coated method possible, and we come away with no illusions about what war is really like.
What makes "Generation Kill" so different from other war productions is the fact that it strips away the unnecessary fluff and puff and presents the story in an almost character ensemble/documentary style. In "Generation Kill" there is no music score or opening theme, only the crackle and chatter of voices over the radio greets us at the beginning and end credits of each episode, multiple units and men sounding off into the dead of night, which truth be told, is far more effective than any music theme could be (That being said, the final scenes of the last episode feature a most appropriate use of Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around", the only recorded song used in the entire series). There is also not much in the way of heroics or glory for the simple reason that in war, there is none to be found. There are no eagles soaring, or glory sounding tunes, or any other BS like that; only following the orders of your superiors (Even if they're complete fools or incompetent), hurrying up and waiting, and of course, death and destruction.
And that last part is especially evident in "Generation", as the series pulls no punches in regards to the civilian "collateral damage" that occurred in Iraq during our invasion, and thus shows the cost civilians pay when armies, even with the best of intentions, come charging into their environment in a combat role (To those who think US troops patrolling troubled neighborhoods would be a good idea, I challenge them to watch this and then try to argue for that idea!). All of this is effectively shown through the tremendous efforts of the directors, producers, show runners, writers, and actors such as Jon Huertas, Alexander Skarsgard, Lee Tergesen, Stark Sands, Neal Jones, Michael Kelly, Chance Kelly, former real life 1st Marine Rudy Reyes, James Ransone, and many, many more who I don't have the space for. To round it up, "Generation Kill" is a mini-series that leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to the chaos and absurd nature of conflict, be it Iraq or anywhere else. As one former Marine commented here, this is the closet thing to war short of going there and actually filming it. For a former service member to say that, you know they did something right here. If you want to see what the reality of conflict without actually being there, then check out "Generation Kill". Stay frosty.