05 February 2012

Generation Kill review

My top 3 favorite HBO shows are Deadwood, Generation Kill and Band of Brothers. It is hard to pick which one of those I like the best as they are all fantastic. However Generation Kill has that crazy dark humor of portraying mayor clusterfucks in contemporary warfare.

This is a 7 part miniseries about the invasion of Iraq, told more or less from the point of view of a reporter who tagged along the spearhead of the invasion - the US Marine Corps recon batallion. It stars Alexander Skarsgård which imo does a vastly superior performance in this show compared to the awful crap "True Blood", we also get Lee Tergesen who was superb as "Beecher" in another really great HBO show called "Oz" which I'm also a fan of.

There is a great number of very likable, hilarious and serious characters in this show. From the "straight" character of Skarsgårds character Sgt Colbert  who is just longing for a real recon mission that he has been trained for, to his goofy sidekick corporal Person, the little trigger happy and gun horny young kid Trombley who just wants to get to fire his SAW at something or someone and constantly spawns morbid onelines - and of course the reporter played by Tergesen.

Other memorable characters is the commanding officer of the marines called "Godfather" who talks with this low husky voice (apparently that is not the actors real voice, which is pretty impressive). One of my favorite reoccurring characters is another officer that the marines call "Captain America" who is pretty much a loose cannon of insanity, constantly screaming panicky commands over the radio about them being ambushed and blown to hell, at other times he scavenges enemy AK47s which he uses to "disable enemy vehicles" (firing at civilian cars and animals). The madness and surrealism of the whole situation that the marines go through is both entertaining and shocking at the same time.

You really get the impression that the grunts just want to do their job, while command and higher officers sends them on shitty missions with little information about the enemy to earn fame and glory. At one point the marines sum it up that "if the target we were storming with our HumVee's out in the open was actually manned by enemies, we would have been dead already". The lack of proper equipment and vehicle armor is another mentioned detail, Sgt Colbert resorting to ordering a gunshield for the vehicle turret from Ebay!

And of course the random nature of modern warfare with confusion, weird intelligence reports, friendly civilians, pissed off civilians, Iraqi militia fighters, roadblock fuckups and collateral damage to civilians and civilian property.

Almost every scene in every episode is memorable, at one point the marines are resting and talking about how peaceful their current location is and watch kids play near a house. Two minutes later a bunch of reservists drive by in trucks howling and firing their guns at the building and call in an airstrike to blow it to hell. In another one of the idiot officers in the company tries to call in an airstrike 200 meters from their own location against the recommendations of his junior officers - their asses are only saved by the moron calling in the airstrike having the wrong grid system on his map. The show has the perfect mix of humor, serious content, is anti-war without being on the nose and a pain in the ass about it - I think it simply shows a no bullshit version of events. It is based on the book written by the reporter who tagged along with these guys. It neither glorifies nor really condemns anything, but shows the problems and troubles caused by war.

A truly must see show with high production quality, fantastic screenplay, excellent performances all round and a rare flawless gem among TV entertainment.

5 comments:

  1. I need to see this show. I don't know about the anti-war theme , it sounds like the reporter hit the head of the nail. Back in the dark past when I was serving , we had a Lieutenant on advance party call back the coordinates of our new assembly area he had scouted. Our company commander asked him if his grid was correct, the LT replied it was. The Commander pointed out that the grid the LT had given him was off of the military reservation. After some more back and forth the commander had the LT send someone to a unit the LT could see to find out where his unit was. Therafter the Lt was known as Lt Clueless.

    ColKG

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  2. Good review and Great show. For me I think it actually beats Band of Brothers for favourite Tv show.

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  3. @ColKillgore LOL!
    I think you will find one of the officers in this show very familiar then :-D , he pretty much screws up everything he attempts to do.

    @Sean, for me it is really hard to pick a favorite among the 3 mentioned shows. It may be that Generation Kill is written "better" when it comes to showing how messed up things are rather than being a "good WW2 themed TV show" like BoB was.

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  4. Haven't seen the series but currently reading the book and it has opened my eyes to the marines and the madness.....

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  5. Haha, then you need to see this show, amazing, fun and a scary.

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