“I’ve learned there are two types of people in Iraq. Those who are very good and those who are dead.” – Sgt. Antonio Espera.
HBO sure knows which series to pick to air because Generation Kill is one beautifully written realistic account of the Iraq war. Spoilers will follow, so skip to the end if you don’t want to get spoiled.
Being a miniseries, Generation Kill is just 7 episodes long each having 1 hour of duration. These 7 hours are pure unadulterated and realistic representation of war. When I went into this series, I did not know that it was actually based on a book of the same name. What I did know was that it was being created by the guys who directed The Wire. And, since being a fan of the series, I decided to watch Generation Kill and boy was I amazed.
Generation Kill is not an action TV series. It is a war drama at its core and the few action sequences it does have include Tanks, Humvee’s and a few times choppers. It also uses military slangs a lot and does not even take a breather to explain to you what most of the slangs mean, this adds a layer of reality that I really liked. So, if you are expecting Hollywood-esque action, I suggest you look the other way. Generation Kill is slow and very thorough in everything it does. This adds to the atmosphere as you learn more about the soldiers and their problems.
The story is pretty simple, the Recon Marines after undergoing heavy training enter Iraq only to find themselves the victims of the bureaucracy and politics of the military. The series covers the entire journey of the marines till the point where Saddam is defeated. The series does a great job of showing what the marines on the ground go through when the higher ups only care about saving their asses and the middle managers try to solve the problems that have been passed on to them whereas the folks on the ground have no say in anything. The story is beautifully structured in a way where it manages to cover the entire battalion, opposed to concentrating on the news reporter who joins the marines. The story is pretty much centered around Sgt. Colbert and the members of his team and the reporter who has embedded for the ride. Along the journey, there is shit tons of swearing and ranting about topics ranging from Jennifer Lopez to some Military movie which the characters consider gay. Overall, the story is that there is no story per se. You are just taken for the ride and the story flows through the characters and this makes the TV series very character-centric.
The performances of the cast are fantastic. The obvious star of the show is Alexander Skarsgård, who plays Sgt. Brad Colbert and is the rock of the show. Then you have James Ransone who does a fantastic job and feels charismatic. Lee Tergesen plays the War Reporter though there isn’t much that he can do since the story is centered around the soldiers. There are also other solid performances by Jon Huertas (Castle) and Billy Lush (Dishonored the game). The production value of the series is damn high and the whole setting feels realistic and believable.
All said and done, Generation Kill is not The Wire. Both have different background though the themes are similar. Nevertheless, Generation Kill is one of the finest war tv series I have watched and I think if you are interested in the genre you should really have a look at this series.