Black Hawk Down (2001)

blackhawkdown_2001_poster
Black Hawk Down (2001)
  • Time: 144 min
  • Genre: Drama | History | War
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Cast: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore

Storyline:

Action/war drama based on the best-selling book detailing a near-disastrous mission in Somalia on October 3, 1993. On this date nearly 100 U.S. Army Rangers, commanded by Capt. Mike Steele, were dropped by helicopter deep into the capital city of Mogadishu to capture two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord. This lead to a large and drawn-out firefight between the Rangers and hundreds of Somali gunmen, leading to the destruction of two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters. This film focuses on the heroic efforts of various Rangers to get to the downed black hawks, centering on Sgt. Eversmann, leading the Ranger unit Chalk Four to the first black hawk crash site, Warrant Officer Durant who was captured after being the only survivor of the second black hawk crash, as well as many others who were involved.

3 reviews

  • If you like war action films, this one is for you! After a slow start, it’s almost non-stop action till the end. Inspired by true events, “Black Hawk Down” is a really good war movie, and almost unbelievable! Some people say it’s the best and most realistic war movie ever made, credits to the makers! I also loved the acting performances of Josh Hartnett and Ewan McGregor, so in my opinion this was just a great movie!

  • My Review
    It should have taken no more than a half-hour. It’s just a “snatch-and-grab” mission with the targets being the advisers to Mohammed Farrah Aidid, a Somali
    warlord that has been waging genocide for years in the country. When the men pack up their gear, they don’t pack night-vision goggles, water, or even back plates; thinking that these supplies will only weigh them down on such a quick mission. The plan is set; an armored convoy will drive through Mogadishu, and Blackhawk helicopters will transport in foot-soldiers and provide air support. The men execute the first objective, taking the prisoners into custody, with relative ease. Just when all signs point to a successful mission with minimum casualties, a Somali militia member fires an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) into the tail rotor of a Blackhawk, and the helicopter spins out of control; crashing in the middle of the busy town market.
    The Delta Force and Rangers all reroute to the crash-site, but the Somali militia continue to keep the men pinned down in the dusty streets. With roadblocks preventing the armored convoy from getting into the city, the Americans continue to sustain casualties, and the estimated 30 minutes battle duration elevates to 18 hours.

    My Thoughts
    2001’s Black Hawk Down is a landmark in the warm film genre. Though it came after Saving Private Ryan, which was also recognized for its realism, this film was acclaimed by many for its realistic portrayal of military conflict. Using real radio transmissions and satellite images from the actual battle in 1993, it brings a sense of verisimilitude to the on-screen action. Along with these realistic visuals comes realistic action, and director Ridley Scott does not shy away from showing the carnage of war. That is my most prominent disclaimer to this film, and I strongly urge you to take this into consideration.
    Unlike Private Ryan, this film isn’t just focused on a small group of soldiers, but rather entire teams of Delta Force and Army Rangers. That is the reason that I could not list the notable cast members; not only are there so many characters to keep track of, but too many recognizable names to list. It is comparable to the television miniseries Band of Brothers in that a multitude of well-known actors take tiny parts on the screen that combine for the full effect.
    Putting aside the actors and the violence, this film is quite satisfying in the cinematography arena. Nominated for an Oscar in the category, the cinematography is very well-done, with camera movements, shot angles, and grainy, dusty tones that complement the action, and it keeps the audience inside actions of the soldiers.
    In addition to its cinematography, this film was also nominated for Best Director, Film Editing, and Sound; winning in the last two.
    As I came in to write this review, I realized the political ramifications of this story. The United States military has been involved in many conflicts and peacekeeping missions across the globe in the past few decades, and even today. To some, these acts are unfavorable, and they think that our soldiers should withdraw from any conflict that doesn’t directly affect the American people. I however, disagree with this idea. Should we Americans simply stand by in our safe homes while genocide and starvation wages rampantly throughout societies beyond our borders? I believe that we should not. This idea is stated in the film also. A soldier asks his commanding officer if he wants to be here, and the man simply says this: “Once that first bullet goes past your head, politics and all of that stuff goes right out the window.” Also, a man states to his team that there are two ways to handle such a decision: they can help the people who have no food, no jobs, and no education, or they can sit back and watch a country destroy itself on CNN.

    Score: 8.5/10
    Comments: The violence and wounds can be very disturbing, and even I had to watch through tightened fingers.

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  • With the release of the Oscar-winning Gladiator (2000) and Black Hawk Down, acclaimed director Ridley Scott rides a second successful one-two wave of his career not seen since his Alien (1979) -Blade Runner (1981) science-fiction success in the early 1980s that earmarked him to be a potential great.

    His output in the 1990s left a lot to be desired with few films that showcased his talents. His resurgence at the turn of the century is welcome by fans who are delighted to see Scott back to his filmmaking best.

    Black Hawk Down tells the true story of the plight of American soldiers whose mission to capture Somali militants responsible for the civil war and genocide in their country goes horribly wrong when one of their Black Hawks is shot down. The film details with startling accuracy and realism the events and consequences of the raid that left more than a dozen U.S soldiers dead.

    Though the number of enemy militants killed number in the thousands, the loss of these heroic bands of brothers, as suggested from the film, could have been reduced or even prevented with better strategic planning and decision making.

    Black Hawk Down is every bit as harrowing and intense as Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) whose influential masterpiece marked a radical shift in war filmmaking. Scott’s film is uncompromisingly violent, gory, and brutal.

    There is an unforgettable sequence accompanied by pounding drums in which a soldier in the midst of battle finds a severed hand on the ground. The music stops abruptly, followed by silence that is disturbingly deafening. ‘Whose hand is that? Is it mine? I don’t wanna know,’ he seems to wonder. He picks up the hand and puts it in his pocket, and the drumming continues.

    Another sequence not for the squeamish is the graphic depiction of a life-and-death surgical operation on a soldier by a medic who attempts to remove shrapnel stuck inside his gaping wound. Scott’s ability to bring viewers right into the thick of action is at times incredible. His direction is also sublime. He balances chaotic battle scenes with tender, emotional moments with exhausted soldiers badly in need of peace.

    Black Hawk Down is beautifully shot and it is hard to disagree that one of the most visually arresting moments in the film involves the swarm of attacking Black Hawks heading towards enemy ground, a reminiscent of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979).

    Scott’s mastery of the medium translates into a film for the senses. After a relatively slow start, the film moves at full throttle to the end, with brilliant editing of sound and action. However, it does not achieve an even greater height because of the lack of substantial character development. Most of the characters are well-cast but in an environment where every soldier looks nearly identical in combat outfit, it is difficult for viewers to connect personally with any one of them.

    But Scott’s decision to limit the development of the characters is somewhat justifiable as the focus of the film is on a singular event, rather than a personal story. In a nutshell, and pardon the pun, Scott has shot Black Hawk Down with unnerving accuracy.

    GRADE: A- (8.5/10 or 4 stars)
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