Film Reviews

BLACK HAWK DOWN

By • Jan 18th, 2002 •

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BLACK HAWK DOWN has no political agenda. It is not a film examining important social issues and it is certainly not a racist film. Unfortunately, the events happened to take place in Mogadishu, Somalia, Africa, where lawlessness still reins. We are interested in this particular event because 18 American soldiers were killed in battle helping people who were dying of starvation. BLACK HAWK DOWN is about the chaos of war. In my opinion, it has no other agenda then to relate the events that took place and treats the Somalis fairly (at the end of the film there is an old Somali man carrying a bloodied and dead child in his arms – a visual that says a lot about the conflict’s impact on all involved).

As part of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Somalia, U.S. Army Rangers and the elite Delta Force staged a raid to capture two henchmen of warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. The mission was supposed to take one hour but lasted until the following morning resulting in the death of 18 Americans and the capture of one American. Aidid’s men were meeting in a highly volatile part of the city. Regardless of what the commanders envisioned (in and out – one hour maximum), the soldiers knew it would be highly dangerous.

The film highlights Sergeant Matt Eversmann (Josh Hartnett, producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s personally appointed movie star) and his young soldiers. Hartnett does a graceful job here (without the burden of being the film’s heartthrob) as do stand-outs in the big cast – Jason Isaacs and Tom Sizemore as team leaders. Sam Shepard as General William Harrison dramatically shows his character’s, and our, frustration as he watches the battle unfold from his high-tech command post. Director Ridley Scott doesn’t dwell on creating portraits of heroic men, but instead gets the audience up right into the fight and we see what these guys were up against. We don’t have to be told they’re heroes – we see it.

The boldness of the firefight and Scott’s ability to get us close to the action makes BLACK HAWK DOWN an important war film. BLACK HAWK DOWN’s brilliance and relevance are forged in its attention to detail and realism. With a huge budget, a fine cast, and U.S. military support, Scott has brought the film-going public into the reality of war. Nothing is whitewashed or redressed for the audience’s frail 9/11 sensibilities. We see what happens and know who is to blame and why. There’s really no need to explain anything: the men were there and this is what happened to each one of them.

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