These days, especially when I review things, I go out of my way to avoid reading anything about the film or in this case documentary. This can have its downsides as I was kind of hyped to see this film thinking it would be along the lines of other documentaries that I’ve enjoyed such as Restrepo and Armadillo. I assumed Kill Team would be another embedded journalist in Iraq/Afghanistan and we’d be seeing close-range fighting action and interesting characters in chaotic scenarios. I don’t want to discuss the case at length, so let’s just say it’s not an embedded journalist documentary but an expose/legal case more along the lines of Standard Operating Procedure.
Kill Team’s focus is on a soldier (Adamn Winfield) who finds himself in a moral dilemma: to be a whistle-blower and stop some bad shit from happening at a cost to his personal safety and also forever be known as a snitch, or to let it go on. The film challenges the complexity of such moral choices, it is never as simple as you think and every action has a shitty outcome. Kill Team looks at cultures within the marines but mostly deals with morality and injustice. It’s a film that should divide its audience but I have a feeling most will side with Winfield’s family and how the whole thing is an injustice. That’s ok, but y’know the Nazi’s were just “following orders” too.
We are told the story after the fact though interviews with those involved, alongside, very mundane footage of their time abroad. There’s some really worrying admissions from some of the soldiers about the culture of being a “bad ass” and killing for fun. Of course I have seen this in movies and TV shows such as Generation Kill‘s Trombley character, but to see and hear it straight from the horse’s mouth was kinda stunning and makes it so real that these are just immature babies doing stupid shit that they’ll have to live with forever.
The blurb on the cover says “one of the best anti-war films I’ve ever seen” but what’s the point in being anti-war? Is it even an anti-war film? I didn’t read that into it, to me it felt more of a “life-is-unfair-during-war-film”. There was certainly no deep or philosophical discussions about the pros and cons of war. To be honest the film is a bit of a whinge-fest and I think Winfield’s decision not to act on the information he had and report crimes was the wrong choice. Spc Justin Stoner blew the whistle on his fellow soldiers (first for smoking drugs), and is thoroughly ashamed of snitching but he is an amazingly strong character who deserves his own documentary. Stoner is a by-the-book kind of guy and it would be awesome if every soldier could be more like him.
War’s an evil we have to live with and I for one appreciate the journalists and documentarians who embed with units and give us insight into that world without telling us whether to be pro or anti-war. Although this was a decent watch I just couldn’t look past the film’s agenda of making Winfield out to be a martyr.
Kill Team is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment