Movie Review

Black Hawk Down also known as “La caída del halcón negro,” “Black Hawk derribado,” “Cercados,” “Falcão Negro em Perigo,” “La chute du faucon noir,” “Black Hawk Down - Black Hawk abbattuto”

MPAA Rating: R for intense, realistic, graphic war violence, and for language.

Reviewed by:
STAFF WRITER

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
War History Action Thriller
Length:
2 hr. 24 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
December 18, 2001 (premiere)
December 28, 2001 (select)
January 18, 2002 (wide)
Copyright, Columbia Pictures click photos to ENLARGE
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Columbia Pictures

courage, bravery, honor

leave no man behind

self-sacrifice

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

war in the Bible

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Featuring: Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, William Fichtner
Director: Ridley Scott
Producer: Revolution Studios
Jerry Bruckheimer Films
more »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures

“Leave no man behind”

“Black Hawk Down” is a fact-based drama about a day-long firefight during 1993’s Operation Restore Hope (providing food and humanitarian aid) in wartorn Somalia. This film is based on Mark Bowden’s book, also known as Black Hawk Down. When U.S. Rangers and Delta Force are sent into a hostile area of Mogadishu to capture some leaders of one of the rival warlord gangs, two Black Hawk helicopters are knocked down by RPG rockets and the Americans sustain several casualties. The intended quick operation becomes one that drags on and goes horribly awry for the U.S.

There’s no three-act plot; the film is a semi-documentary. The 50 to 1 kill ratio is accurate, and some of the events are authentic. I don’t know how much of the fine detail is dramatic liberty.

Content Warnings: The profanity is extreme at times, and some of the military engagement footage is done in the style of “Saving Private Ryan” (severed fingers, limbs and torsos; arterial blood-spray; shaky hand-held cameras).

Scene from “Black Hawk Down”There are so many characters that there’s no time for us to get to know or care deeply about all of them. But I believe the film succeeds at what it sets out to do, and may be destined for a number of awards.

We really shouldn’t need this kind of reminder, but just in case we do: it doesn’t matter if a military action is small-scale and done without a declaration of war; the casualties are just as maimed and just as dead as those in World War II. As I write this (January 2002), U.S. Special Forces are engaged in other firefights in far-flung areas of the world, attempting to put a stop to international terrorism. The job necessarily involves dirty work, and someone must do it.

I recommend this film to anyone mature enough to handle the content and imagery.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—“Black Hawk Down” is a masterfully crafted piece of film. It tells a rather accurate and realistic version of the so-called battle of Mogadishu, without turning into a cuss—or splatter-fest. Be warned: the action is intense and non-stop. Director Scott only spends about 30 minutes introducing the ensamble cast of 20 or so characters. Then the shooting starts and doesn’t let up until the final 15 minutes of wrap-up.

Granted, the violence is graphic (but not gratuitous), there is some usage of “f” and “s” words, but to be completely honest the movie would lose virtually all of its honest feel without most of it. Let’s remember folks, it’s a war movie.

Don’t take your kids, unless they’re older teens. (read the last paragraph) Don’t take your date—wife, girlfriend, whatever. Don’t go yourself if you can’t handle watching men die in a very realistic fashion.

But, if you’re interested in understanding how truly dangerous it is for this country to get involved in the internal struggles of a 3rd-world nation, see it. more »
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 5]
—Jeff, age 42
Positive—Walking out of the theater after seeing this, I was struck with a sense of overwhelming gratitude for the many, many blessings we enjoy (many of which we take for granted) as Americans. My petty problems seem to pale, and the smallest of blessings seems to grow more precious and wonderful, after this reality check.

I feel I must give the film a “very offensive” rating because of the violence and language, but truly this film has had a positive spiritual impact on this viewer.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 5]
—Timothy Blaisdell, age 38
Positive—This is the best war film I have ever seen, and I have seen many! The movie depicts the American fighting man at his best: the training, the conditioning, and the ability to overcome unforeseen obstacles against overwhelming odds.

At the beginning, the movie spends a half hour setting the background for the conflict in which our soldiers are sent to fight. It explains the situation in which 300,000 Somalians had died of starvation as the result of the actions of the various fighting factions in that country.

It also shows how political decisions, both good and bad, affect people at the street level. It is not an anti-war movie, yet it realistically depicts the causes and effects of war on both soldiers and civilians alike. more »
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Scott Loven, age 46
Positive—This was a great war movie. My perspective is from a non-military background. There were many shocking parts of the movie during battle. Lots of blood, guts and gore (Just what you would expect). The fighting went on a bit long, but it seemed very realistic. I did not notice much computer generated clips that were way out of what you would conclude as reality. In the end there were a total of 19 men killed.

Based on the number of explosions and bullets flying around, I would have estimated at least 75 to 100 killed. So, from this perspective there was a lot of gunfire for an unrealistic number of men killed. more »
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 4]
—Scott Wold, age 40
Positive—It’s not very often that you see a movie about a military action this soon after it has occurred. I went to see this movie expecting to see the good guys win and the bad guys lose.

However, I came out realizing that even one U.S. soldier’s death should leave us all, especially Christians, with a deep appreciation for our military and sorrow for his death. I vowed to prayer DAILY for our armed forces and their families. This movie is not for children because it is VERY intense and graphic. It does depict war in all of its ugliness and violence.

I recommend it, if only to make you appreciate more what American freedom is all about.
My Ratings: [Average / 4]
—Jennifer, age 37
Positive—Good movie. Yes, there’s blood, but it’s about a war. It’s an eye opener to those who think small wars are nothing. It doesn’t have to be a world war to be bad.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Anon., age 20
Positive—This movie is not about a pair of downed helicopters. It is about esprit de corps and sacrifice. It bottles the essence of what is good in the military and of those who are in it as well as the brutality of war. One of the main characters state, “It is about the man next to you.” This is something that is drilled into all members of the military, but rarely portrayed in the media.

As a former Marine, I can attest to the military accuracy of the movies details. Given the high level of accuracy to detail, this movie is not for children. This accuracy applies to many small details such as hand signals and the sound of rifle fire (this is the only movie I have seen where I could pick out the weapons used by their specific sound). “Black Hawk Down” portrays the trials faced by ground troops when politicians prevent them from having material’ required to complete the job and placing them in harms way with no clear mission.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Mike Walsh, age 35
Positive—As as Christian and former Marine grunt, I was very proud to see Hollywood succeed in serving this country. You, the People, need to know what kinds of sacrifices your sons and daughters are willfully taking to provide our basic freedoms. This movie is a reality check, and a good one at that. The majority of the world hates U.S. not because we are a capitalist country, but a Christian one. I personally was on the edge of my seat watching it.

Yes, there’s lots of blood, and gore. But to leave that out would have been a HUGE injustice and slap in the face of every Ranger, Operator, PJ, or SEAL that was there that day. (Ironically I hope their moms don’t see it.) more »
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 5]
—Chad, age 24
Neutral
Neutral—This is a realistic view of the US raid. It is not exaggerated or diminished. I thought this movie was going to be more gory than “Saving Private Ryan.” It came close. There were not as many swear words (do we really need to count those?), and it was a good all around movie.

DO NOT take little kids to see this. It is highly intensive and very violent. But it is a war movie. I enjoyed it and would advise mature people to see this.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Joe
Positive—I have not been the biggest fan of war movies while growing up. Most seemed cliched (the enemy is purely evil, we’re the good guys, we always win no matter the odds). I have developed a respect for well-done war movies since seeing “Saving Private Ryan.”

The visceral sense of chaos gave the old phrase “war is hell” a new meaning. “Black Hawk Down” takes this to a whole different level. Unlike in the World Wars or the Gulf War (or our actions against terrorism in Afghanistan), the mission of the Army Rangers is not as clear. The failed raid in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993, that is depicted here was not a clear-cut road to victory.

Like in Vietnam, what appears to be an easy strike on the face of it turns into an ambush with no easy means to win (as one scene told from a Somali militia perspective shows, killing and negotiation are the same thing in their everyday lives). more »
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Max V. Norton, age 35
Comments from young people
Positive—Being a teenager I wanted to see this movie right away because of Josh Hartnett. But I didn’t think it was going to be as good as it turned out to be. It was a really good intense movie. The war scenes were very real looking and at times a little to gruesome but it made you realize how awful war is.

Some parts were really sad and you could hear the whole audience sniffling. The acting was really good and of course Josh was super hot!!! All in all this movie is a must see for people who love war movies. Not a movie a little kid should see though. There is quit a bit a swearing and gore and things move really fast. But I loved it and can’t wait to see it again!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Eva, age 16
Positive—Fantastic movie, I loved it, Great acting, after the first 20 minutes or so of explaining the mission, as soon as they drop in there its none stop action.

To warn some people there is a lot of extreme gore and blood, but its a war movie what do you expect, they could have lowered down on the profanity though. This movie truly shows how brutal war can be, but the only problem I found about it was there was no character development so you can’t get into the characters actions, but that’s all, the next saving private ryan, excellent movie.
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Joseph Berry, age 15
Positive—I enjoyed this movie. I went to see it with my dad and my older brother and we all liked it. There is a ton of blood. I have seen and loved the movies “Braveheart” and “Saving Private Ryan,” so the gore didn’t really bother me, but beware, if you have a weak stomach, do not see this movie!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Grace Watson, age 15
Positive—This movie was beautiful, brilliant, and very bold. It lets you look at life differently. ’Nuf said. Go see it. (oh yeah, it is pretty bloody)My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Miranda, age 18
Neutral—I thought that Black Hawk Down was a very exciting and action packed movie. It really showed how life in the military, and fighting wars are. It gives you a respect for the people who fight for our country. But it did have a lot of cuss words. So I would recommend it to anyone who likes war movies and doesn`t mind a lot of blood.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Jeremy Dixon, age 15
Movie Critics
…35 F-words… 10 religious profanities [or] exclamations…
—Kids-in-Mind
…nearly nonstop violence… another exemplary effort of showing that war is indeed Hell, that heroes spring up when the going gets tough and the dangers and risks one’s military often faces…
—ScreenIt!
…fills the screen at least ninety percent of the time with violent and sometimes bloody battle scenes…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review

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