Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES:
Disc One: 3 commentaries, including direcor Ridley Scott and producer
Jerry Bruckheimer. Filmmakers' and cast biographies.
Disc Two: 8 deleted/alternate scenes. 6 'Essence of combat' featurettes.
7 'Image and design' featurettes including Jerry Bruckheimer's
on-set photography. Weblink.
Disc Three: 10 TV spots. Music video. Theatrical trailer. Multi
angle featurette. Photo gallery. 3 interviews (including Q&A
at the BAFTAs).
On the afternoon of October 3, 1993, an elite group of US Rangers
entered the town of Mogadishu, Somalia, to capture two senior
advisers to warlord Mohammed Farrah Aidid. The mission was supposed
to take less than an hour, with shots fired, but resulted in one
of the bloodiest conflicts the US military has been involved in
Two Black Hawk US military helicopters went down, over 100 Rangers
were ambushed and 18 servicemen died. Up to 1,000 Somalian militia
also lost their lives. A fire fight is considered long in modern
warfare at 13 minutes. The events in Mogadishu lasted a colossal
Black Hawk Down, Ridley Scott's unflinching look at the events
which took place, which has been co-produced by Pearl Harbor producer,
Jerry Bruckhemier, pays tribute to the heroism displayed by the
young soldiers who participated and is as graphic an insight into
modern combat as you are ever likely to see.
Scott's film is a combat movie, pure and simple, but one which
should be applauded for refusing to succumb to the type of trashy,
gung-ho excesses of typical Bruckheimer fare, or the groan-inducing
flag-waving which dogs so much of the Hollywood mainstream. And
while it is almost certain to be knocked in some quarters for
affording very little time to the Somalian side of affairs (Scott
will protest, no doubt, that he was given only limited access
to their advisers), it should equally be praised for the way in
which it refuses to dress the events up as a victory when they
were, in fact, a failure.
Indeed, such was the devastation felt by many, that the Clinton
administration withdrew US forces from Somalia the very next day
and refused to deploy ground troops in foreign countries again.
That has changed, post September 11, of course, as Rangers are
back in action in Afghanistan, but Black Hawk Down is certain
to appeal to anyone who has their eye focused on current world
Technically, the film is outstanding and yet further proof
that when it comes to handling spectacular set pieces, there
are few who can rival Scott.
The Gladiator-helmer plunges viewers straight into the heart
of the action, almost making them feel a part of it. Hence,
you will want to duck as bullets and missiles whiz past your
head, and will gasp in horror as bodies are torn apart, or as
friends attempt to patch each other up, no matter how futile
or desperate the situation is.
For sheer attention to military detail alone, Scott's movie
deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Spielberg's Saving
Private Ryan or Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, while his use of
the Black Hawk helicopters - which have as much of a presence
as some of the actors themselves - is sure to draw comparisons
with Coppola's war-time masterpiece, Apocalypse Now. And in
case you were wondering, Black Hawk Down is just as good.
This is a war movie which, again, captures the confusion, futility
and sheer wastefulness of battle, while never losing sight of
the courage of the men who must fight it. And it is a tribute
to all involved that the human element is never lost amid the
Scott has gathered an ensemble of British and American actors
who all make their mark, from Josh Hartnett's thoughtful team
leader, Eversman, who blames himself for the failure of the
mission, to Ewan McGregor's admin worker-turned fighter, Grimes
(a character who, in real life, is now locked up for child abuse).
And while the likes of Tom Sizemore, Ewan Bremner, Orlando
Bloom, Jason Isaacs, Matthew Marsden (ex of Coronation Street)
and Thomas Hardy are equally impressive, special mention must
go to Eric Bana's Hoot, who manages to convincingly capture
the mindset of a man willing to go back into the line of fire
time and again for the sake of his friends and colleagues, and
Sam Shephard is also superb as the commander of the operation,
forced to watch powerless as the young men he helped to train
are ambushed and slaughtered. It is a performance of mounting
frustration and quiet desperation which never allows itself
to become too showy or unrealistic.
At nearly two and a half hours, Black Hawk Down is certainly
not for the squeamish, but for those with the stomach for the
battle, it is an important, even pertinent, look at modern combat.
You will feel shell shocked, but I cannot recommend it highly