Black Hawk Down
Reviewed by: Brett Willis
Action / Drama
2 hr. 24 min.
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore, Ewan McGregor, Sam Shepard, William Fichtner | Directed by: Ridley Scott | Produced by: Jerry Bruckheimer, Ridley Scott | Written by: Ken Nolan | Distributor: Columbia Pictures
“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).
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.
Year of Release—2002