This past week I watched all seven episodes of HBO’s Generation Kill. In ways it reminded me of Band of Brothers and Tour of Duty. If you haven’t seen it, Generation Kill follows the 1st Recon Marines as they make their way to Baghdad, and along for the ride is a reporter from Rolling Stone which has similarities with Barry Pepper’s character in We Were Soldiers.
There were a few things that stuck out to me based on the genre and what I’ve heard after the fact seeing this is based on actual events.
- those in charge were apparently idiots
- there was a vast gap between the regular Marines and the reservists (remember the National Guard units in First Blood?)
- some soldiers seemed normal while others seemed unhinged or a little crazy
- the officers were kind of split between good and bad
While I wish there were more than just seven episodes, the show did end well before jumping the shark. It was also really moving at the end when the company watched the edited video put together by one of their own who had been shooting footage on a handheld camera. It summed up what had happened during their time pretty well and foreshadowed what was to come.
So is their a recipe for war movies/shows in this vein? I really started to notice some similarities where most of the officers seem to be slightly incompetent and the NCOs are the experts. There’s also one, maybe two, officers who are really good and respected by the enlisted men. Is this an HBO thing?
I must say it was great to see the Master Sgt offer to rile the men up with more grooming violations if morale became low. At first I wasn’t quite sure how to take his antagonistic approach to the men because he seemed like a nice guy at heart.