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The Kill Team presents itself as almost an expose. One which highlights one, almost naïve, young man’s journey from going into the armed forces, thinking he’ll make a difference, to coming out a convicted murderer with the type of story which continues to make the armed forces of the US seem like a true necessary evil.
Trigger Warning(s): Mutilated Bodies
Review (with Spoilers) – Below
Characters & Story
Since he was a kid, Adam Winfield has admired his father Christopher’s marine past. In fact, he admired it so much that he wanted to, before turning 18, have his parents’ permission to join the armed forces. However, once in, he realized things weren’t like how they were in his father’s memories, nor like how they were on TV. For, per Adam’s experience, there was no evil doer, Taliban, or the type of opposition which inspire devout patriotism. If anything, what led to dead Afghanistan citizens was due to being trained to kill, rather than build up areas, and people who knew how to exploit the system. Something one Sergeant Gibbs allegedly did for quite some time. Though, thanks to one slip up, it seemed Gibbs, and many in his team, had to deal with the type of scrutiny none of them were expecting to receive.
Be it that I’m probably still riling over the blind patriotism of American Sniper, and how big of a hit it became, it makes films like this, Camp X-Ray, Good Kill, and The Invisible War so important. For while, like many Americans, I am thankful for the safety and security the military provides, at the same time, there remains the same issue with the military as there is within the police force. There is a culture geared toward being the backend of society, the supposed law and order that keeps everyone safe, yet those who serve this purpose are far from perfect.
For whether it is people like Gibbs who take full advantage of their position and how they can cover up their wrongdoing, or people like Adam who get dragged into the established norm, this program reminds you that supporting the troops maybe noble, but is very much complicated. After all, you are trained to kill; the system is made to, unless you become a serious liability, to those of higher rank and, as noted by Adam and his family, make it so speaking out is never a wise choice. The reason being, the person your reporting could very well have strong ties to the person who becomes your jury and executioner, something slightly seen in the latest episode of Scandal.
All in all, the beauty of this program is there seemingly isn’t any dramatization, just one complicated victim and a handful of almost unapologetic, and blunt, soldiers who either justify what they did, or speak with slight regret.
Being that the film tries to focus on the ridiculous procedures of military court; the issue of training soldiers to kill, then having them do stuff like build wells; as well as address the issues dealing with those recruited in the army, and the dangers they cause toward others and international relations; there just sometimes seems like so much is going on, and not enough focus on any single part. For while it is understood this is Adam’s story, at times it does lead you to wonder whether his story is focused on as a relevant way to talk about these issues, or whether “The Kill Team” was truly meant to be the focus.
Continuously, I find films like these which don’t present us with the idea of a blind patriot, who is without fault, to be the best type of films. For while this is a documentary, about the horrible murders, and mutilated bodies, of Afghani, and is but one of the few cases of people actually being convicted and it not just being status quo, at least it presents an alternative. Something which continuously is necessary for while the armed forces in no way need to be damned completely, like any entity which licenses people to kill, there is a need for constant criticism. After all, the presumption that these men and women are heroes ends when those who take advantage of the perception, and protections given, turn the image of these heroes to villains.