The latest HBO TV masterpiece, GENERATION KILL, the love child from the creator's of the networks critically lauded THE WIRE, and the ROLLING STONE writer's articles and book based around being an embedded Iraqi war journalist, is about to reach it's 7 episode mini series conclusion Sunday night. To say the show has been entertaining on many levels simply scratches the surface, but certainly, Generation Kill is a huge accomplishment, even for a network as rich in breakout success as HBO. Generation Kill is quite simply, amazing.
Even as we pass five year's since the invasion of Iraq, and the much maligned "mission accomplished" charade, very little in entertainment (or even straight up news) focusing on the war has found a resonance with our society. Many are frustrated, and increasingly fed up with the war and subsequent occupation, but there's generally not much Iraq war fair that has resonated in pop culture, pro con or otherwise. And while Generation Kill doesn't seem to have captured the buzz other recent HBO sensations like Entourage, or even The Flight of the Concords have, it's certainly on par in terms of production brilliance, with any effort the network has put together, Sopranos to Sex and the City.
A seven part series, each episode clocking in at over an hour apiece, Generation Kill is the true story of the Marines of First Recon Battalion and their journey into Iraq during the first 40 days of the war. It is massive in scale, and truly puts you riding along with the Marines, dozens of them, all captured with skill by a sharply chosen cast, and production values that have you question how, just how the fuck are they able to pull this shit off?!? From base camp, to moving out in country, and all the skirmishes and engagements that follow, across Iraq countryside and towns. The vehicles, the weapons, the settings, it's all of a scale and realism, that never has you question it's validity, but only how they're able to pull it off. It's visceral, it's engrossing, and it's damn funny!
The cast here are awesome, from the inept leadership, to the brilliant Sargents, and the myriad grunts we come to know, along with their colorful leader "Godfather" (named such since, a victim of throat cancer, he gives out the companies orders in whispered voice a la Brando), they all shine in their roles. Of course the credibility, heart, and truth to the effort all hang on the notes Rolling Stone's Evan Wright, a character in the series himself, took as an embedded journalist for the magazine, and subsequent book. Sure GK has all the hallmarks of the best military films, but it has another level of connection being utterly based in reality. These are real people, brought to life by those who were there (two of the people featured from First Recon were also brought in to help craft the show, and a third stars as himself), going through the utterly maddening paces that troops on the ground had to deal with, botched orders, improper gear, officers ego's and ambitions, all much more deadly than the ill prepared Iraqi resistance.
We all know how the war turned out, we all know Saddam's forces didn't put up any epic resistance, and we've all heard stories of the efforts, but we've never seen them, or any war, brought to life in such stunning and shocking detail. Generation Kill is unbiased, unflinching, and utterly genius. One can't help but come away with sheer respect for the soldiers that put their lives on the line here, and in the service of their country, when all they ultimately can trust in, is each other. Because the President, the country, or even your superiors may not be in your corner, but you've got a job to do, and a war to survive. It's amazing that journalists would throw in to this equation, and it's incredible that such a great work of art could be made from it!
Give Generation Kill a look if you haven't, either while it's still playing on HBO, or once the inevitable DVD hits, just be sure and...