The series opens with a bunch of young and verbose soldiers taking on a live-fire training exercise in Kuwait. You’re introduced to some of the main characters and prepared for the mount of cursing, sex-talk and racial slurs you’re about to hear.
Most of the early scenes are spent trying to establish the crushing boredom involved with waiting around to go and kill people, which puts the focus on the dialog. It’s all very Full Metal Jacket-like, but unfortunately doesn’t have nearly the same flair or authenticity.
About halfway through an episode full of bickering, and people calling each other “faggots,” the troops hit their vehicles and drive to another place where they wait around for a while. I understand that they’re trying to convey how boring it is before an invasion, but I really could’ve done without it. It’s like watching the prequel to The Fast and the Furious where Vin Diesel sits around taking the driver’s test at the DMV.
Even once the Hum-Vs start rolling, there’s still no reprieve from the chatter. They drive from one place to another, jabbering the whole way without firing a shot. After almost an hour, the battalion has an interesting encounter with some surrendering Iraqis that they’re forced to send back to death squads to protect their own position. It’s really the first compelling part of the series and it’s the last scene of the first episode.
Without the last scene Generation Kill would seem ultimately far too unsatisfying to keep on with, but I’m left thinking they’re going in a better direction and that they producers were willing to sacrifice one episode just to set up the rest of the series. Since they’re also the guys responsible for The Wire, which is fantastic, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.
As a premiere episode, this was really kind of boring. Whether it was meant to help you empathize with the soldiers or not, that’s just not a great way to cap-off the weekend. Also, I haven’t really formed any connections with specific characters yet. With only six more episodes to go someone better start doing something to make me like them.
Even after being a negative Nancy for most of this write-up, I’m still looking forward to seeing where the next episode goes. The troops are now firmly implanted in the shit and have made contact with Iraqi hostiles so it could pick up significantly. Don’t delete it from your DVR schedule yet, just don’t watch it on Sunday night so you’re not all grumpy going into work on Monday.