Black Hawk Down
Running Time: 144 minutes
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, William Fichtner, Sam Shepard, Kim Coates, Hugh Dancy, Ioan Gruffold, Jason Isaacs, Orlando Bloom, Jeremy Piven, Tom Hardy, Ty Burrell
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Rating: 8 out of 10
An American extraction goes horribly wrong in the heart of Mogadishu and some elite soldiers must fight for their lives.
I have a list of movies that I will pretty much watch on a yearly basis and Black Hawk Down is one of them. It is just such a solid action packed movie that it is hard not to enjoy it. Black Hawk Down is the story of a small contingent of elite American Soldiers who are dropped into Mogadishu to capture some key Somali personnel. What transpires next are the soldiers battling for their lives against a ravenous and heavily armed opponent hell bent on their annihilation.
Based on a true story this film will shoot its way into your heart with a little bit of drama and a whole lot of bullets. The viewer is treated to a short back story of why the Americans are there in Mogadishu. From there it leads to a short introduction of the American soldiers you will be following. It is a poor introduction as there are too many key figures in this movie to get emotionally invested in the characters. With such little background info it could have been trimmed to save on this films long running time (144 minutes.) Couple that with most of the guys (outside the very well known actors) all look virtually identical in army fatigues so it seems almost like wasted time filler. No one should be dissuaded from this slow start though as the film gears up to one of the longest and most intense gunfight movies in war history. The film really starts off as the viewer is treated to some fine aerial shots of the city as the troops descend on its target. Things go wrong early for the Americans and then the situation gets downright ugly. What is hard to wrap your head around is this fight for survival takes place not on some distant battle field but amongst urban city streets and buildings. Civilians flee from the carnage as American soldier’s trade gunfire with Somali insurgents. It is cool how the film switched from different groups of soldiers as they battle their way through the unrelenting city of Mogadishu. There is virtually no breaks in the action as the elite U.S soldiers are fired on relentlessly from the roof tops and from makeshift army vehicles. This film is an adrenaline rush of bullets and blood.
This film has one of the most impressive ensemble casts in recent history. There are too many characters to go through them properly so I will give you my top three. Grimes played by Ewan McGregor somehow stole the show in this film. He is an unlikely and unassuming hero as he bumbles his way through the city with reckless courage. He provides a little levity and humor to a film that desperately needed it with such a high body count. The next is McKnight played by Tom Sizemore and he is an unflappable presence in the centre of the tornado. His iron exterior held together the soldiers when most people would probably be in shock. Lastly was Hoot played by Eric Bana who comes across as the say it like it is super soldier. It is easier to believe the Americans survived this mess when Bana is on screen. There are many other characters that stood out but these were my favorite. The camaraderie of the cast is what makes the movie awesome. The attitude of no one gets left behind brings out the best in these portrayals. This movie had moments of great sorrow that is hard to come by in a film with such high body counts but little character development.
Some people may not like the amount of action this film has but I thought it felt right somehow. These soldiers are battling for their lives and the viewer needs to realize that. You will be shocked at the atrocity of war while being totally captivated on how these trapped soldiers will exit the city. This film is also not for the squeamish as body parts and blood is spilt heavily on both sides. The film uses aerial assaults, ground assaults, sniper fire, and anything else you can think of to dazzling effect. I usually pan super gung ho army films but I got into the brotherhood of the soldiers in this film. Guys stay behind to defend a position, guys covering each other’s back, and guys running into open spaces to carry hurt people to safety are inspiring in this film. By the films end it is like a big exhale after watching such an intense mission fail so utterly bad. Bottom line is you need to watch this film as it never lets the viewer take a breath from the carnage.
Director Ridley Scott has carved an impressive career (Alien, Blade Runner) and this is just another film he should be proud of. He covers a sensitive topic tastefully and adds just the right amount of humor to lighten it at times. The camerawork and gun work is superb and hearing the helicopter's mounted guns in surround sound is something you won’t forget. In a film with so many characters and things happening I was surprised to feel sad as much as I did when people were killed. This is a film that will take its place high on the list of best action war movies out there.
I give this movie a huge recommendation to war movie lovers but really anyone who likes action should enjoy this to.
T Factor + If you like war movies than this could score higher on the rating scale.
T Factor – If you do not like graphic scenes of violence this could score lower on the rating scale.
If you liked this film reel recommendations: We Were Soldiers, Saving Private Ryan.