Jonathan Crocker

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TV review: Generation Kill

Posted by Jonathan On February - 14 - 2009

generation_killDesert. Humvees. Marines. Military jargon. Machinegun fire. Searing yellow explosion. Man down, man down… Just as they did with their magnificent cop/crime epic The Wire, writer / producers David Simon and Ed Burns drop us neck-deep into Generation Kill‘s Iraq war saga without a word of briefing. “We wanted you to be disorientated,” says Simon, on the first episode yak-track of this three-disc set. “We’re willing to let you catch up on your own terms.”

Makes perfect sense: Rolling Stone writer Evan Wright was embedded with the Marines’ First Recon Battalion, publishing his insider account of the marines’ tip-of-the-spear Iraq invasion in 2003.

Ambitious, demanding and constantly absorbing, Simon and Burns’ seven-part HBO adap wastes no time targeting the alpha-male boredom and bravado of parched pre-combat. But as First Recon heads for Baghdad, jarhead weariness rapidly shades into a brilliant study of the chaos, incompetence and emotion of conflict. Powered by fast, funny dialogue, a superb acting ensemble and a sandstorm of detail, Generation Kill’s drama proves a gripping straddle of deft cinematic style and compulsive docu-reality. As a grunt’s-eye view of history’s most documented war, it doesn’t get better.

Packed audio commentaries with Simon, Burns and directors Susanna White and Simon Cellan-Jones are strapped to each episode, along with mission maps and an fascinating interview with Wright and some of the real First Recon marines.

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Publication: Total Film.

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Jonathan is a London-based journalist, critic and editor. He currently works for data visualisation agency Beyond Words.

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