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Generation Kill - Get Some (Pilot episode reviewed)

Generation Kill

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

INDIELONDON singles out notable episodes from current television series for stand-alone reviews. On this occasion we take a look at the opening episode of Generation Kill entitled Get Some (as aired on the F/X Channel on Monday, January 26, 2009).

What’s the story? The Marines of Bravo Company prepare to invade Iraq at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom; while the soldiers wait to receive their orders, they learn a Rolling Stone columnist will be embedded with them.

Was it any good? Generation Kill finally arrives on our screens with the burden of being the show that the creators of The Wire did next. It didn’t disappoint.

Ed Burns’ and David Simon’s screenplay was as witty, biting and insightful as fans of The Wire have come to expect, while Susanna White’s direction offered a sometimes uncomfortably realistic, documentary-style insight into life on the front line in the days leading up to the second war in Iraq.

There were echoes of Jarhead in the opening 40 minutes, as members of Bravo Company counted down the days until combat, staving off boredom with a moustache growing competition and frequent insights into the latest edition of Hustler.

But the dramatic impetus picked up once the order came to roll across the border and the troops gained their first tentative insight into war.

It’s a measure of the show’s quality, however, that it didn’t resort to a “crowd-pleasing” battle sequence in the end to blood its company in stereotypical style. Rather, Bravo Company rolled into Iraq under cover of darkness (a supremely well shot sequence using night vision), before coming across Iraqi refugees who were seeking to surrender themselves to US authority and prevent their inevitable slaughter at the hands of Saddam Hussein’s death squads.

White’s direction was clinical and unflinching, as she showed some Bravo Company members abusing would-be refugees (hinting at the atrocities that we all know followed by US troops), before they then withdrew and abandoned them to continue pursuing their military objective.

In the telling words of one disgruntled company member: “This was their first experience of American liberation and we fucked them…” And with that, the first episode came to a poignant close.

Earlier, though, there was plenty to be enjoyed in the “poetry” of Burns and Simons’ screenplay, including a pumped up Marines declaration that the war in Iraq was basically about a lack of “pussy”, and the ironically hilarious decision to commend soldiers for coming to the aid of one of their own following a dubious incident with a coffee pot.

Performances to watch, meanwhile, came from Alexander Skarsgard’s Brad Colbert, James Ransone’s smart-mouthed Cpl. Ray Person, and Lee Tergesen’s shell-shocked Rolling Stone reporter, who wears the incredulous look of someone who can’t quite believe what’s unfolding around him.

The best thing about all of the performances, however, is that you forget you’re watching actors… because Generation Kill, to all intents and purposes, looks and feels like the real deal.

In the words of its over-eager Marines, we’d advise you to tune in and get some from this outstanding series at the earliest opportunity.

What did you think?