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July 15, 2008

‘Generation Kill’ presents unfiltered, unbiased look at war

Generation Kill

Episode 1: “Get Some”

HBO miniseries, Sundays, 9 p.m., aired July 13. Starring Jon Huertas, Kellan Lutz, James Ransone, Alexander Skarsgård, David Barrera, Kasem Griego, Josh Barrett and Wilson Bethel.

Synopsis: Based on the Rolling Stone articles and subsequent book by Evan Wright, this seven-part miniseries begins as Marines in the First Recon Battalion push into Iraq during the first 40 days of the war.

Mat: “The Wire” co-creators David Simon and Ed Burns could make sidewalk graffiti fascinating. Their miniseries presents Evan Wright’s vivid Rolling Stone articles and subsequent book into a four-color treatise on this debilitating conflict. The focus is on the troops and the Iraqis — which is what matters.

Sara: While the subject matter was a bit intense and unsettling, I thought the first episode was beautifully shot. Some of those camera angles, especially while depicting the sparse desert, were amazing. I liked the naiveté of the journalist character — loved the scene where he got his boys twisted up in his gear. Ouch. And chewing tobacco never looked better. I had a similar swallowing mishap with dip in college — but it wasn’t because I was rushing to get my gas mask on. It did make me sick, though.

Mat: It’s nice to know the troops had everything they needed: Cpl. Josh Ray Person (Ransone) tells “Scribe” Wright (played by Lee Tergesen) that he and Sgt. Brad “Iceman” Colbert (Skarsgård) had to spend $500 of their own salary to outfit their Humvee. The soldiers were shipped green camouflage to fight in a desert, and Lt. Nathaniel Fick’s (Stark Sands) discovery that the battalion has no armed escort spells doom. But the kicker was Fick’s rock-and-a-hard-place order to leave the hostages at the mercy of Iraqi death squads in violation of the Geneva Conventions. Some rules were made to be broken.

Sara: Yes, that was pretty hard to watch. But orders are orders. And during wartime, orders trump emotion. Can’t believe some of the higher-ups were so concerned with the Marines’ appearance — from ’staches to which hat they wore. Give them a break!

Mat: Were I surrounded by people who wanted to kill me all the time, I’d be a screaming maniac, too. I wanna know how much Hustler paid to get their magazine featured. It’s like the official rag of the Marine Corps, and the soldiers ogling a picture of a little girl in the beginning was wretched.

Sara: Yes, that scene made me uncomfortable. Do you agree with Person’s rationale that if the country of Iraq wasn’t so uptight about sex, we wouldn’t be there? “Why can’t we ever invade a cool country,” he asked. “One with chicks in bikinis.”

Mat: I read Sebastian Junger’s article in Vanity Fair a couple years ago about these al Qaeda operatives who whored and boozed it up in South America, so sex can’t fix everything.

Sara: No, sex can’t fix everything. It’s more like duct tape — it can fix things temporarily, makes the rough edges bearable.