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We were soldiers AND made a great film...
kingtanichi17 July 2003
Black Hawk Down is first and foremost an immensely effective war film, but beyond that, its one of the most subtly differently made war films ever. Most war films usually either have a single hero through whom we see everything (i.e. Platoon), or present us with a squad of soldiers, all of whom are identifiable "types" (i.e. Saving Private Ryan). Black Hawk Down takes a different approach, instead giving us a very wide array of characters, none clearly singled out as a hero or type to command the audience's attention. The general effect is to create that feeling of a team army that George C. Scott so ardently expounded to us at the start of Patton. Furthering this feel of military professionalism, the film never cheapens itself by putting too much emotional weight into one moment. The plot moves ahead at a constant pace, cutting from location to location, without slowing down to focus too much on individual soldiers. The effect is of watching documentary footage of a real military operation gone wrong. While the effect of this scripting approach may produce some detachment among viewers on the first viewing, it makes the film all the better on subsequent viewings.

And you'd better believe there will be subsequent viewings, because Ridley Scott has created one of cinema's all-time great pieces of eye candy here. The editing, cinematography, grading, scoring and visual effects all combine to leave a viewer just as drained upon leaving the theatre as these soldiers were on leaving Mogadishu. The intensity of this film's combat is easily equal to Saving Private Ryan, and leaves such pretenders as We Were Soldiers behind in the dust. Black Hawk Down lacks the former's emotional resonance, but unlike the latter, it thrives on the fact, creating a final product as mind-challenging in its construction as it is mind-blowing its visualization.
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One of the best war movies of all time
shades03312 January 2002
When talking about war movies, there are many great ones that immediately spring to mind. Since the 70's, three of them have formed a bit of a holy trinity: Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, and Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. These three movies have set the bar for all other war movies that have come along since then. When it was announced that Gladiator director, Ridley Scott, would be adapting Mark Bowden's book, Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War, filmgoers knew that they would be in for a treat.

For whatever reason, I don't remember hearing much about the civil war in Somalia or about the Battle of Mogadishu on which Black Hawk Down is based. The plan seemed simple enough: the Army is sent into Somalia by the government to try to put an end to the Civil War. On October 3, 1993, a group of them were sent on a quick mission to capture the Somali warlord that had been running the country with an iron fist. It didn't take long for the operation to go completely FUBAR as two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down. Things went from bad to worse, as the Rangers found themselves surrounded by thousands of armed Somalis, whose only goal was to shoot any American soldier that invaded their space. After "stirring up the hornet's nest", the mission becomes a desperate attempt to maintain the Rangers motto, "Leave No Man Behind".

Needless to say, Ridley Scott has made the ultimate war movie with Black Hawk Down. Unlike some war films that temper the battle with slower character-building sequences, you have to wait only thirty minutes for the Rangers' mission to go into effect. And the action doesn't stop for the next two hours, as the rest of the movie is filled with flying bullets, explosions and bloodshed. The fighting is so chaotic that it is hard to follow the action and tell what is happening, at times, and it becomes almost too easy to become desensitized to the violence. By the third time someone yells "RPG's!" though, the entire audience knows to duck and cover their ears.

While the American soldiers go in with a solid plan, it doesn't take long for panic to set in, and pretty soon, you're not sure which side is more disorganized. It's amazing to watch what seems like thousands of extras playing the Somali militia swarming over the soldiers, and the action and camerawork is reminiscent of a video game as the soldiers try to escape their precarious situation through the streets of Mogadishu. As the movie progresses, the tension continues to build as the grim and unrelenting hopelessness of the situation sets in both for the soldiers and the viewer.

It's pretty amazing how much has been made of the 19 downed American soldiers when over 1000 Somali men, women, and children were killed during the raid. While the movie is clearly weighed towards the American perspective, I can't imagine how it must have felt to be the guy who gets to play "Dead Somali with a Gun #354".

Although characterization has always been used extensively in war movies to get the viewer to care about the characters, Black Hawk Down works better because, for the most part, the soldiers are personified as little more than grunts in the field doing the bidding of their superiors. At least the soldiers had their names taped to their helmets, so that this didn't have the problem of some war movies, where it's sometimes hard to tell who is who. Some of the best performances of the film come from Tom Sizemore as the gung-ho Lt. McKnight and Josh Hartnett, who plays the sergeant who leads the mission and feels personal guilt every time a man is lost. Sam Shepard also is excellent as Major General William Garrison, who sits back in the safe zone watching his doomed men be overpowered by the enemy. Eric Bana's part is small, but he has some of the best lines in the film, really driving home the point of why soldiers do what they do. Ewan McGregor's role is even more minor and insignificant, but his Trainspotting compatriot, Ewen Bremner offers the movie's little bit of comic relief.

As expected in a Ridley Scott film, the visuals and camerawork are stunning with the movie having a gray almost monochromatic look that makes the orange flames and red blood really stand out. As is typical in Scott's recent movies, there is lots of flying dust, rubble and debris mixed with slow motion shots of falling bullet casings and splattered blood. He also uses animals and non-military personnel well in some of the shots to show that this firefight is happening in the middle of a populated market district.

A big deal has been made out of the blood and gore in Black Hawk Down, but what is any true war movie without it? Though most of the graphic violence on display is not far beyond Saving Private Ryan, there is at least one visceral sequence that will make most people squeamish, unless they watch those operation shows on The Learning Channel for entertainment. Black Hawk Down is quite an achievement in creating a realistic representation of an event in recent history. Most of this movie leaves the viewer aghast and incredulous of what they're watching, and it's hard to believe that something like this could possibly happen. Technically, this movie is an amazing feat that gives the viewer one of the most realistic impressions of what it would feel like to be in the middle of a war, which makes the atrocities of the event seem all the more real.

In a genre that has brought out some of the best in directors and actors, Black Hawk Down is easily the best war movie ever made, and it has replaced A Beautiful Mind as my candidate for Best Picture and Director.

Rating: 10 out of 10
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A very American war story directed by an Englishman
DesbUK19 March 2005
I've been watching this movie and its accompanying extras on DVD this week for the first time and I thought is ironic that this very American war story should be directed and produced by an Englishman (Ridley Scott) and have a large number of British actors cast as the American servicemen (Ewan McGregor, Jasson Issacs, Hugh Dancy, Euan Bremner, Orlando Bloom.) I suppose it's the equivalent of Steven Spielberg directing a film about the Battle of Goose Green during the Falklands War and casting Americans as members of the Parachute Regiment.

Scott's movie is quite brave in that it has no major stars and no central character (unlike, say Tom Hanks in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN or Mel Gibson in WHEN WE WERE SOLDIERS). It's also largely free of the clichés of the genre: no soaring John Williams score accompanying shots of the flag fluttering in the sunlight; no scenes of the families back home. Instead its all about the logistics and the absolute horror of battle. This is the best combat footage since ZULU way back in 1964, a film which it resembles. In Scott's commentary description words, it is 'Anti-War but pro-military'.
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one of the best ACCURATE war movies
dberman-23 March 2005
Unlike most of the war movies of our time, Black Hawk Down sticks to the facts about what happened in Mogadishu and doesn't romanticize the story. To support this observation, the viewer will notice that there is not really one main character. This shows that the film focuses more on what happened in Somalia instead of on the characters personality and/or struggles. Another important aspect of the film that makes it so great is the cinematography. Not only was the setting of the film accurate to the real thing, but the way that the movie was filmed is great because it seems like someone is running along the battle scene getting everything on tape. In addition, the film contains small aspects that one may not notice that are important to the situation in Mogadishu. For instance, the bullet shells that fell from the firing helicopter fell into one of the soldiers' vests, and he scrambled to get it out because of how hot it was. This small detail makes the movie that much more realistic. To conclude, Black Hawk Down is a great movie that is both an eye opener that sticks to the facts as well as a quality film. I recommend this movie to any war-film fan, as well as anyone that likes watching movies in general.
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Tells it like it is
BettieTeese26 November 2004
I'm not a fan of war movies usually,but when i sat down to watch Black Hawk Down,i couldn't turn it off.Heres a war movie which doesn't sugar coat.There is no crappy dialogue,no soppy love story tie ins,just the real deal,brutal battle scenes,the gruesome reality of war.Black Hawk Down is based on a true story,the bloody battle at Somalia and it leaves one drained.Its confronting,and exposes war in its true light-there's nothing glamorous to see.In two hours and a bit the viewer is able to imagine being there at the horrible battleground,and suffering like the soldiers did.It really makes you appreciate how lucky we are to be in a free country,relatively peaceful,and not having our lives threatened every second of the day.Everything about BHD is right; the setting of the film,the Somalians,the American soldiers going through hell,the brutality,the battle,the

fatalities.Not for the faint hearted,or weak stomached,but a truly powerful,compelling motion picture.Ridley Scott takes the viewer on an imaginative journey through Black Hawk Down and appeals to our emotions.A brutal,yet bearable war film.
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So many elements combine to make this movie good.. especially the music
GridGirl0331 August 2002
I've just got this movie on DVD - I did see it on the big screen and it blew my mind. Being from Australia we had practically no idea of what was going on in Somalia, and after seeing this movie and then reading the book - it is an eye opener.

Now that I've watched it a few more times, I've noticed one thing with this movie. The music. Aside from the story and the cinematography and the editing which all are so well done that you feel like you are there with them; the music is a big contributor to the feel of the movie, and in my opinion, more so than in a lot of films.

It is very subtle, it has taken me 10 viewings to even notice there was music there. It really helps create the atmosphere, going from lighthearted, almost fun in the beginning with various rock/pop tracks into deep and moving operatic styles as the story progesses into the war and further.

It is the top of my list of favourites for many reasons, but I think mostly it is the way the whole package comes together to tell the story of what happened that makes it so good.

Well worth viewing many times over.
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I Felt Like I Was in that Black Hawk
ptheus18 January 2002
Black Hawk is quite simply the best movie of the year (2001) and the best war movie I have seen. It's an astonishing achievement that puts you right in the middle of the hellish horror faced by U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993. Every explosion startled me and filled me fear, every gunshot felt like it was whizzing right by me, every mistake or unforeseen event had me on the edge of my seat with stress and anger. I felt as though I had been transported to Mogadishu for 2.5 hours and plopped in the middle of the ambush faced by the 100 or so U.S. Rangers and Delta Force Troops as they set about to capture a Somalian warlord responsible for stealing Red Cross food shipments in his starvation-ravaged country. I really felt this movie, it was tangible to me; the confusion, the fear, the sense of dislocation and horror the soldiers must have faced. At the end I was emotionally and mentally drained.

Ahh emotions, a subject of much debate where this movie is concerned, at least among some critics. While the reviews for Black Hawk Down have on average ranged from "Good to Excellent," there has been persistent and growing criticism over the lack of clearly drawn out characters that the audience could connect with, the lack of historical context, and the fact that movie is all action, with no heart, with no point-of-view. Well I think those who criticize the movie on these grounds, have completely missed the point of the movie, and are flat-out wrong. It is a movie told from the soldiers point-of-view, pure and simple. This is not a political movie, this is not a movie that needs cheap sentimentality or conventional emotional "hooks" for the characters. As much as I liked Saving Private Ryan, the overly sentimental framing device used by Spielberg, really annoyed me. It felt like he was pandering to the audience just a little bit, and it wasn't necessary. Well, there's no pandering here, no cheap sentimentality in Black Hawk Down, just the horrible, gruesome, disorienting reality of modern combat. I didn't know anyone who worked in the World Trade Center, but I was moved to tears by what happened to them on Sept. 11 and that's the way I felt today in the movie.

As far as I am concerned there was plenty of emotion in Black Hawk Down, plenty of "choke-up" moments, or moments when I was moved by the unbelievable courage shown by the soldiers as they faced an almost hopeless situation. I'm not sure how anyone could not be moved by seeing these 18-25 year-old men trapped in the horror of a Civil War that had no bearing on U.S. National Security. As portrayed by the amazing ensemble cast, these men (really boys in many cases) showed the full range of emotions that our soldiers must have gone through, not to mention the fear and confusion of their situation. To me the cast standouts were Josh Hartnett (boy has he got BIG FUTURE STAR written all over him) as Staff Sgt Eversmann and Australian actor Eric Bana as Sgt 1st Class "Hoot."

Black Hawk Down is a great movie, and it is an important movie. It is the story of courage and heroism against nearly insurmountable odds. What happened in Somalia was a foreign policy failure for the U.S., but the actions of the soldiers sent into battle that October day were anything but failure. That there were not more casualties is a credit to them and ultimately a credit to all of us.
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It`s An Account , Not A Statement
Theo Robertson18 September 2003
I vividly remembered the news reports in October 1993 of the body of an American serviceman being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu following the battle there . A couple of years later my interest of the battle was rekindled by an edition of the BBC`s excellent history show TIMEWATCH that spoke to the survivors of " The biggest firefight involving American troops since Vietnam " , so when Mark Bowden released his book BLACK HAWK DOWN I opened the first page and found myself unable to put it down , and when I heard Ridley Scott was going to bring Bowden`s book to the big screen I was looking forward to seeing it

I did enjoy the movie and have to take issue with some of the comments raised . First of all people complain about events and incidents being changed , I know how you feel but with any adaptation there`s bound to be bits condensed , the only real criticisms that can justified is that this film version totally negates the Somali point of view ( For those of you who haven`t read the book Mark Bowden writes his account in a similar subjective manner Corneilus Ryan wrote his trilogy - two of which THE LONGEST DAY and A BRIDGE TOO FAR were made into blockbuster movies - dealing with the last months of the war in Europe ) but Bowden`s book is an account of the battle of Mogadishu , that`s what it is - An account that doesn`t really concern itself with wider issues like politics or anti-war sentiment , so it seems churlish to complain about concepts like character development because that`s not what the story is about . I`ve also heard teenage girls complain that Orlando Bloom doesn`t get enough screen time and that they found it too violent . I`m sorry to hear that girls , hopefully next time you go to the cinema you might like to find out what you`re letting yourself in for . As for the rest of the screenplay it is accurate right down to the friction between the Deltas and the Rangers and the fact the Americans were actually rescued by a UN force composed of Malaysians and Pakistanis

Ridley Scott rightly deserved an Oscar nomination with BHD . It`s his movie and he surpasses anything Spielberg achieved with the overrated SAVING PRIVATE RYAN . War is hell and this is a film of stark and haunting imagery of victims of famine , of mutilated soldiers and civilians . Both editing and cinematography are superb with many great scenes like the small stream of American soldiers walking up the street while on the other side of the houses a massive torrent of armed militiamen are walking in the same direction . My only real complaints of what`s on screen is Ewan McGregor`s awful American accent ( It`s especially so when you stop to consider that most of the cast aren`t played by American actors )and Hans Zimmer score resembles that of most of his other movies , but I shouldn`t nitpick because I found this Scott`s best film alongside GLADIATOR
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shea_bennett6 October 2002
When you break it down and look at it both honestly and cynically (assuming that that is possible for a minute), there are really only two kinds of war movie: pro and con. The underlying theme of virtually every war movie - particularly since APOCALYPSE NOW - generally comes down to an analysis of the 'value' of war, of its worth. It's pointlessness, or its need. Is the action of battle warranted because of the attempt to find peace, or is war never justifiable, no matter what the intention?

Pro or con?

What is interesting is that since the Second World War, this underlying message that is found in nearly all war pictures has slowly changed from the former to the latter. This again is generally shaped in two ways. Either we see the play-by-play results following the issuance of what appears to be a bizarre and foolhardy set of orders from high command (i.e., APOCALYPSE NOW or SAVING PRIVATE RYAN). Or we get a glimpse of being right in the action as it all falls apart: hearing the bullets whizzing past our noses, reeling from the impact of RPG's and gazing blankly as the bodies begin to mount (PLATOON, say). BLACK HAWK DOWN, directed by Ridley Scott and accurately following the true story of the best-selling book by Mark Bowden, very much adopts the latter perspective.

On October 3, 1993, a small unit of U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force troops were dropped by helicopter into hostile territory in Mogadishu, Somalia, with what is perceived to be a straightforward mission: the capture of two lieutenants of the Somali warlord, General Aidid. The unit is under command from Major William Garrison (Sam Shepard), and headed by Staff Sergeant Matt Eversmann (Josh Hartnett) in his first direct experience of frontline leadership. He also has a personal goal - to ensure everyone comes back alive.

Yet, these things are never as easy as they appear - hence the development of the book and the film - and when 18-year old frontline rookie Todd Blackbird is injured early on, the entire mission begins to fall apart. More U.S. troops are injured, and when Somalis down two Black Hawk helicopters, the mission changes completely: it's now a rescue operation.

And for about ninety minutes, you are subjected to some of the most intense, disturbing, graphic, violent and chilling pieces of conflict representation that you will ever see. Remember the Omaha Beach scene in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN? That was about half an hour long. Think of something three times that length, yet more 'realistic' and with (thankfully) no flag-waving. That is the gist of BLACK HAWK DOWN.

Ultimately, one hundred-and-twenty-three U.S. troops were involved in the Mogadishu conflict. Nineteen were killed, and one thousand Somalis also perished.

Unlike RYAN, BLACK HAWK DOWN doesn't build up a core group of characters, focusing on their emotional makeup and depth. No. Instead, we barely know our 'heroes', with very little time devoted to each characters motivation or purpose. And this is a good thing. At first, you find yourself a little bewildered by the sizeable cast, and this isn't helped by the many distant POV scenes that found this reviewer wondering just who he was seeing living and dying. But surely that is an important and crucial element of war - you're involved in these suicidal missions with men you barely know. You don't have time to share your life-stories. You may have only met that week, that day, or within the last hour. And then it's full on.

We get snippets of character data: Eversmann's entire focus is on not letting the team down; Specialist Danny Grimes (Ewan McGregor), for so long tied to his desk simply because he excelled at typing; and Delta Sergeant 'Hoot' Hooten (Tom Sizemore, soon to be playing Bruce Banner in THE HULK), wise despite his years, somehow making more sense of the nonsense than anyone else.

But any characterisation is underplayed and to the point, which is how it should be. The fresh-facedness and naivety of the troops is key to the success of the film, and of the emotional impact therein. As the errors and bodies mount, we get to see the horror of the conflict - the carnage and devastation, relentlessness and never-ending waves of Somali forces - directly through the eyes of the U.S. Rangers and Delta Force squad. I was somewhat stunned by the impact of the movie, both in the way the action grips you and shakes you violently until you want to let go, and in the occasional and very touching soft moments. Indeed, the action is so intense that I found myself at times glazing over, thinking of something else, and with hindsight I put this down to some kind of need for an emotional release; certainly, I cannot fault the film in that sense. It was simply a case of 'too much.'

Throughout the movie both the acting and direction are superb; Ridley Scott has an eye for detail and filmography that is probably unmatched. Even his lesser efforts like HANNIBAL are beautifully shot. And BLACK HAWK DOWN is one of his best efforts to date.

The musical score is also superb, and I was encouraged to hear the Stone Temple Pilot's CREEP near the beginning of the flick. I believe this is the first time I have heard a STP song in any movie.

What is also very welcome is the lack of U.S. nationalism in this picture. Of America saving the day. Unlike, say, brother Tony Scott's TOP GUN - which yes, was making a different point entirely (i.e., let's make some money and recruit some boys to the Navy at the same time) - this isn't about the might of the U.S. There is no wake-leaving in BLACK HAWK DOWN. Real people made mistakes, and real people died.

Speaking of Tony Scott, however, my only minor quibble was Sam Shepard's performance. He was probably in the wrong movie, as all his mannerisms (especially the way he took off his sunglasses in that quick-draw kind of way that stereotypical military types always seem to do) appeared to me to come straight out of TOP GUN. He was a little too 'bleh' for my tastes. For all I know William Garrison could have been exactly like that, but it still seemed a little Hollywood.

I also wasn't completely comfortable as to how the Somalis were portrayed; this movie wasn't really about good versus bad in my opinion, but on the face of it the U.S. are the bad guys here. At least inasmuch as they were at fault. Comparisons are made with Vietnam both in the unnecessary involvement of the U.S. in the Somali civil war, and in the end credits of the film where we learn that the Medal of Honour was awarded to two U.S. soldiers for the first time since the Vietnam conflict. Yet, throughout the film the Somali are seen in only two ways - either a relentless force of bloodthirsty killers, or a simple people trying to stay out of the way. Now yes, this may be what it really was like - I cannot say because I wasn't there - but the overall message didn't fit well with me. They seemed too one-dimensional, a bit TOO bloodthirsty, and that left a bitter taste.

Also as mentioned above the film is often confusing during the extended battle scene, and warrants more than one view. As the blood and dirt begins to pile, you will find yourself wondering who you are looking at, particularly when the perspective is on several soldiers from a distance. But that can be forgiven. This isn't PREDATOR, and while that film is outstanding as a piece of science fiction, it made a great effort to separate the marines so that the viewer would have an easy time following each one.

That, of course, isn't real life, and BLACK HAWK DOWN is, perhaps, as close as we've come yet to an accurate capture of the true feel of war.

Rating: **** 1/2 (out of five)
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Excellent War Movie (very realistic and true account of War)
ratnajit1014 July 2008
I have seen many War movies and I am myself a very die hard Military Technology Enthusiast but I have hardly seen any movie which is as correct as this one. This movie simply gives you the feel of the actual action which went on during this battle.

Everything from the way the soldiers moved, took their position, fired from covered positions, gave covering fire to each other, the use of Explosives including grenade and the way they captured strategic places even without much help from Air Force gave a true and absolutely realistic view of Real Time Urban Combat. It shows that Humvees are not impenetrable and the Soldier manning the machine gun post is extremely vulnerable from Roof Top Fire. Again the way Small Arms like the LMG & UMG were used were impressive and the tactics used by Special Forces to fend off attackers and secure the perimeter was true to all my knowledge.

I appreciate the Director and actors to carry out this War Movie with such accuracy. If you are a Defence Enthusist this movie is must watch and if not then too one must watch it to understand is WAR is nothing less then HELL.

Since this based on true incident let's pay respect to those who sacrificed their lives and salute those who have lived another day to fight.
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Breathtaking Good
Tweetienator9 April 2019
One of Mr. Scott's best movies and one of the best modern war movies easy. Thrilling and with breath-taking action scenes, you can almost smell the gun smoke. Top one.
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A gritty and good acted war movie
Sonava25 March 2011
Black Hawk Down, co-produced and directed by Ridley Scott, is based on a true story taking place in Somalia, Mogadishu in the early '90s. Elite forces were sent there to participate in a UN peacekeeping action and the task was to abduct two of Farrah Aidids, a Somalian warlord, lieutenants. But it proves more difficult than they previously had thought after two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and in turn led to a fiasco, a failure that has devastating consequences. Starring as Eversmann is the well-known actor Josh Hartnett, from Lucky Number Slevin. Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) plays Danny, a tough and fearless sergeant, and as the comic relief is Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting).

The actual script is based from a book by Mark Bowden, a soldier who wrote it while he was in Somalia and it explains partly of why we get to see the U.S. point of view, which to me tend to be somewhat patriotic in these cases. When the bullets whiz past helmets, and the grenades explodes in the battlefield, you feel very much that you are there without getting hit. Elite units stood side by side when hell broke loose, and together achieve their goal - to overthrow the dictator. The idea to leave someone on the battlefield did not exist, it was one for all - all for one.

From a realistic way the film works very well, like when guts and body parts fly off from bodies, but I am slightly hesitant about the way Somalis was portrayed. Were they really a faceless evil enemy through and through? I got the impression that Somalia was ruled by criminals, drug addicts, drug dealers and murderers. In one scene the Somalis attacks one of the helicopters and they looked like a horde of ants looking for their prey. If it was a Somali film instead, it would probably look quite different compared to this American bias. Sure, all the historical facts is not always easy to get in a reality-based film and I accept that.

Some scenes are very daring and are nicely assembled. The color has a mostly somber gray tone, and the barren, cold realism that the film shows is great executed. The war "only" lasted in hellish 15 hours resulting in 18 dead and 73 injured U.S. soldiers and hundreds of dead Somalis.
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Say again... Why is this movie bad?
Borut_Z25 April 2004
In my opinion, this is the best movie about war ever made. It surpasses even such masterpieces as Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan or Stone's Platoon. Reading comments on this website, I came to conclusion there is no middle way (there are exceptions, of course) with this movie; or you love it or you hate it. Well, I love it. I can't agree with arguments given by people who hated it, furthermore, I can't even understand most of them, which mainly are:

A - Movie is too one-sided. Now, I never saw a war movie where both sides would be equally presented. In Saving Private Ryan we don't get to know Germans. In Platoon we don't get to know Vietcong. In Thin Red Line we don't get to know Japanese etc, etc. In a battle, you take care about yourself and your comrades, not about a person who is shooting at you, whether you will make his children orphans or not. There are complaints that Somalis are presented as angry, blood-thirsty mob. Well, according to the book, they did act semi-suicidal, without any knowledge about combat tactics, so on numerous occasion they ended up shooting their own people. No wonder why number of their casualties was so high.

B - Movie is flag-waving, recruitment ad, pro-war. First, to let you know, I'm NOT an American. Sure, it's patriotic, but what's wrong with that? I always thought patriotism is a value. If someone is confusing patriotism with nationalism, that's his problem. Some say it didn't address bigger picture, why Americans went in Somalia in the first place. But BHD didn't have these ambitions. It's about brotherhood in arms, not political thriller about US foreign policy. Like Bowden stated in his book: "Soldiers cannot concern themselves with the decisions that bring them to a fight. They trust their leaders not to risk their lives for too little. Once the battle is joined, they fight to survive, to kill before they are killed." It seems some people refuse to realize the movie is telling a story of America's elite soldiers in that particular event, from their point of view. However, there is a subtle message about uselessness of US engagement in Somalia, it's just not in a form of some angry speech, given by a bitter soldier. I also don't understand how this movie is pro-war. Don't know about you, but I wouldn't put images of Rangers being blown to pieces in a recruitment ad if I would be making one.

C - Poor character development. Now, I can partly agree with this statement, but it's necessary to point out, movie isn't a character study. Sure, Hartnett has a leading role which should be more developed, but movie is more focused on course of battle in Mog as such, on showing a perspective of many involved, so there really isn't much room for detailed personal portrait. Some say, it's hard to identify with characters when we know so little about them. In this movie, this doesn't seem to be the case. I found BHD very emotional movie. Acting is very good, facial expressions and acts of soldiers showed us anxiety, fear, courage, sacrifice, grief etc. For many, Eric Bana as Hoot was too Rambo-type, but his character is based on real-life Delta who really was a tough guy (read the book). The music was also excellent to spur on emotions.

Of course, movie isn't perfect, but show me the one which is. US soldiers are just too nice, you-gotta-love-them types, dialogue is poor. But apart from that, it's visually perfect, as realistic as it gets, pure chaos and confusion, just like war really is. Most of the time it's like documentary. Sometimes images say more than a thousand words. Here, they say more than enough.
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So good, I was in a constant state of fear and anxiousness
emily-39235-1577610 March 2019
Good portrayal of what being a soldier is (at least I imagine). This wasn't a story of glory and winning; this was a story of bravery, brotherhood, and hope. Everything about this film helps transport the viewer to the battlefield.
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Best Anti-War Movie
sacgazette3 February 2019
As with any plan, the devil is in the details. And when a plan is based on faulty intelligence, cultural approximations and poorly calculated logistics, the devil is the only one pulling all the levers. One of saddest chapters in American warfare, portrayed with anguish, grit and long-suffering by a talented and very enormous cast.
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This movie is a history lesson contained within a war movie.
cashbacher19 January 2019
While this is a tense and realistic war movie with a great deal of action and suspense, it also demonstrates that military valor is of little value when there is political ignorance and arrogance. The backdrop is the U. S. military operation in Somalia in the early nineties. The government of Somalia had collapsed, and the country degenerated into zones controlled by various warlords and civil war. They all used intimidation and starvation to tighten their hold on power and the U. S. led an operation to try to end the civil war and stop the mass starvation. It was a mission that began with the best of intentions yet was based on a lack of understanding of the situation in the country. In many ways, it was based on the misbegotten belief that the Somali people would be grateful, and the Americans and UN personnel would be hailed as benevolent heroes. When there was some pushback, the U. S. command came up with a foolish and arrogant plan to kidnap General Aideed in the capital city of Mogadishu. This movie is a well-done depiction of that raid, from the initial arrogance of the American troops to the disaster that followed, where the American soldiers demonstrated incredible valor and sacrifice. The Americans believed that it would be so quick and easy that some didn't even bother to don their body armor or fill their canteens. Furthermore, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin turned down the request of the U. S. military for armored vehicles including tanks, fact not well explained. As battles go, it was a victory for the American forces, 18 American soldiers were killed while over 1,000 Somalis died in the fight. Yet, it was a defeat, demonstrating that even people starving in a civil war will take up arms against an invasion force and leading to the American withdrawal. This movie is a history lesson contained within a war movie.
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Awesome fast paced war film.
julialowe-815096 December 2018
Black Hawk Down is an amazing feature film. Scott's movie is fast-paced and riveting. The film will keep the average viewer on the edge of his or her seat, with eyes fixed on the screen. Cinematographer Slavomir Idziak makes frequent, effective use of filters to dampen hues and enhance the "grittiness" of Black Hawk Down's appearance. Hans Zimmer's music is generally effective, although there are times when it calls attention to itself a little too much.
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Great war film about the Battle of Mogadishu 1993
Juan_from_Bogota3 April 2007
This is one of the best war film that i have ever seen!, Ridley Scott made a great work bringing to screen the events of the battle of Mogadishu in 1993, with an incredible cinematography, sound and scenes that surely will make you live the cruel facts behind a guerrilla and street war in the third world with military and innocent casualties. Scott manages to show a very human and real side of the best elite forces teams of the US, the Rangers and the Delta Forces, and keeping the historical facts without modifications. Really great to see if you like war, historical or epic battle films!

The film shows the events in Mogadishu Somalia in 1993, where a group of elite forces of the United States and the United Nations constructed an military operation with the objective of capture the warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid; in one of the operations (code name Irene) where they have to capture as prisoners some important members of the Militia, they face and fight a huge number of Somali fighters, heavily armed and with guerrilla tactics that puts high resistance to this elite forces.

With a great casting that includes Josh Hartnett (Eversmann), Ewan McGregor (Grimes), Tom Sizemore (Sgt McKnight), Eric Banna (Hoot), William Fichtner (Sanderson), Orlando Bloom (Blackburn), Jason Isaacs (Steele) among others.

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As an intense war movie it really works. But as a true story it is jingoistic and about as selfless and giving as masturbation
bob the moo18 January 2004
In Somalia, warlord Farah Aideed controls the people and uses hunger as a weapon by stopping UN food supplies reaching his people. The US military tries to usurp the rule of Aideed but, after 6 weeks, he is still in power and the US demands faster action. When the military are informed of the location of two of Aideed's top men a mission is put together to catch them. However, when one of the Black Hawk helicopters is hit and crashes, several soldiers are left behind enemy lines, starting a battle for survival and rescue against the hordes of armed Somalis.

While most reviews seem to be of one extreme or the other, I think it is important to try and look at the film in the two ways that it should have existed and weight it up on that basis. First of all, as a war movie there is very little wrong with it. It is realistic and powerful and you do leave with the feeling of having been in a battle. The lack of characters is not a major problem as all is required that we know is that these are soldiers - not what family they have or what they are like as people. However this film would have been much better if it had been totally fictional and had existed just as a flag waving tale to American bravery and dedication to the fight.

Sadly this is not a fiction al story, it is based on a true story and it is a lesser film because of what it chooses to omit or spin in it's telling. Like I said, this was a very good film if you want a reasonably intense depiction of being in a battle, however it should have been an anti-war film, such were the lessons to be taken from the events of October 1993. However, because an antiwar film will never sell in post-11/9 America, the film cannot go down that road. While it is generally regarded that the US attempt to launch an attack in this way was foolish and that the result was a `fiasco' none of that is shown here. There is no room for comment on the wisdom of the action when there's cheering to be done. In fact at one point one of the characters even explains the events by just saying `sh*t happens'.

This is just one example of how blindly patriotic this film is. Does this take away from the impact of the film - no. Does it take away from how good a film it is - yes, and it should. The film never stops shouting about how heroic and upright the US soldiers are and, in fairness, those involved deserve respect. However the film ignores the fact that a significant number of those involved in the rescue and the fighting were actually Malaysian (who here are limited to serving glasses of water to the returning US soldiers. Given that the film lacks characters it would have been no problem to replace white US faces with Malaysian ones (they all end up covered in dirt and blood anyway!). However, to do that would have required the film to suggest that the US needs external help to bail it out - again not an idea that an audience would take.

While the film has no characters it is not a major problem, although I would have liked the US soldiers to at least not be all angels! The cast were mostly good despite not really ever having to act, I was surprised how many well known faces were involved - Bana, Harnett, McGregor, Sizemore, Fincher, Sheppard, Bloom, Piven and Coates to name a few. However there are no Somali characters to speak of (in fact - no Somalis at all! The extras were from other nations despite not looking anything like the people of that region). The film early on has Harnett's character express respect and interest in the Somali people, but the film doesn't. There is no back story about the country and there is nothing to suggest that this country is anything other than armed gangs of angry black people who are killing the good soldiers. An antiwar film shouldn't really paint one side good and the other bad in a situation like this, and that was the point I understood the film wasn't trying to be antiwar - it was pro-US.

It is a shame that the film spares no thought for these people - yes they killed the US soldiers, but the US killed over 1000 of them during the rescue mission. There's nothing wrong with the film bigging up the US soldiers, but to just totally ignore this fact other than a caption at the end is basic. The caption may as well have read - `1000 of them died too but they weren't American so f**k them.' The film's core is the dramatic and violent rescue mission and I can forgive them making it an `all-US' operation given the fact that it is an US film. However the film made a conscious choice to remove everything about the story that would be critical (which is a lot) of the US, for this reason it suffered a lot - a film that criticises politics and the whole idea of war does not have to do the same for the soldiers. These men deserve respect no matter how they got there - but the film wrongly carries this respect over to the whole concept and situation. This was a mistake.

I have gone on longer about the bad stuff than the good, so let me make it clear: this is a very good film if you are looking for a war film that is dramatic and very realistic. Scott is a good director and he does very well to make the audience feel like they are in the midst of a battle. I didn't want it to push an antiwar agenda but I didn't expect it to be as flagwavingly naive as this! Of course it did well - the audience wanted a film that supports the military, it's just a shame that they didn't just make up a story rather than taking a real one and doing it so badly. There are other people in the world and they are still people regardless of race or beliefs - that this film fails to take that into account is a major failing no matter how exciting or realistic it is.
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What a masterpiece!
force19845 September 2005
This flick are a straight-to-the-bone WAR movie! After 35 minutes with "preparing" for battle, the CODE NAME: Irene sounds all over the Speakers, and the Black Hawk/Humwees/Small birds are loaded with US Spec. Forces AKA. US rangers and Delta Force.

The film re-creates the American siege of the Somalian city of Mogadishu in October 1993, when a 45-minute mission turned into a 16-hour ordeal of bloody urban warfare

After the "35 minutes" pre-mission preparing for battle sequence, ( establishing us with the different characters in the movie) it turns into a 1hour 35 minutes long, epic action sequence, where bullets, RPG's and hand grenades are all flowing thru the air, penetraiting hummers, soldiers, humwees and the rest of the environment, making the sand wirvle in front of the cam at all time. All masterly well done by (one of my favourite) directors all time: Ridley Scott. The camera movement, music (Composed by my NUMBER One favourite composer : Hans Zimmer), acting are all pretty good expressed in the film.

War is HELL.. And Ridley Scott proves it. There's no romantic. No "Dear mommy". No " I am glad I could die for my country".. Just simple, realistic portrayed WAR sequences,all showing the courage these young Rangers are experiencing.

In the actors list, we are meeting a lot of YOUNG/Veterans of Hollywood's superstar team.. All from Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana and Sam Shepard.

The movie is violent.. It contains dozens of blood, gore and death. (Though, it ain't close to Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan in brutality )But it reflects it in a SERIOUS anti war perspective. No glorification.

It's a well done WAR movies, which draws the audience into the events of Moghadishu, Somalia in 1993 October.

This film turns into one of my favorite films, and my TOP WAR movie (Besides Saving Private Ryan and Band of brothers)
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An unashamed propaganda piece
avakian110 August 2009
I read Bowden's book by the same title. All of those who claim that this movie follows the book closely clearly lack in reading comprehension. The book took a balanced approach to the conflict. We learn about the events leading up to the Battle of Mogadishu. Bowden interviews both Somalis and US soldiers and we learn about their motivations.

In the Scott's work all of the characters are flat. They're cookie-cutter "American heroes" who are completely indistinguishable from one another. The Somalis are depicted as crazed hordes who are inexplicably hell-bent on US blood.

I could go on, but the opening "background" text says enough. It suggests that US soldiers were merely there on a humanitarian mission to rescue the population from a genocidal warlord. What they don't tell you is that shortly before the events in BHD, the Habr Gedir clan elders had met to discuss the peace proposal put forth by Admiral Howe the previous day. Due to lack of intelligence Cobra helicopters armed with TOW missiles attacked massacred 54 people. With this act they succeeded in making enemies of the entire Somali people. Note that military advisers were with the film crew and able to veto every decision.

Read Bowden's book or google the Battle of Mogadishu for more. Propaganda that is thinly dressed as entertainment gets 0 stars from me. The only difference between this and old Soviet propaganda is production value.
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high beams in a thick fog
Jonny_Numb27 May 2003
I find it ironic that many of the comments being circulated from outside (rather luckily, I'd say) the hornet's nest of U.S. news media are doling out the most thoughtful and reasonable opinions on why "Black Hawk Down" is such a rank slice of flag-waving propaganda. Those who say, in so many words, "leave your politics at the door" are the ones who are missing the point of a democratic society--even in something as simple as film criticism, dissent is not a privilege, but a right for all people who disagree with the preset opinions of others.

"Black Hawk Down" is a film that offers up an indistinguishable cast of characters, Army men devoid of personality but all trailed by gold haloes (heavy irony here, as one reviewer mentioned, one soldier is presently in prison for rape), as they carry out a rescue mission that goes awry (although the plot becomes a moot point even before the troops arrive), which turns into the type of loud, exploitative, and soulless bloodbath we've come to expect from the prolific, oh-so-patriotic Jerry Bruckheimer. (At least "Con Air" had John Malkovich for comic relief.)

Inking his soul over to the devil, Ridley Scott employs the mandatory, quick-edit style of pretentious music-video directors the world over, and rather than drawing interest into the almost nonexistent story, instead makes the film bomb even harder. The shameless cliches that are trotted out do nothing to build the characters (the phone call that came one ring too late; the 'kissing of the family picture', etc.), therefore it is impossible to relate to or care about anyone, even more so when they choke out the typical "Tell my wife and kids..." line.

On the other side of a particularly one-dimensional, racist "script" are the Somalis, who are presented with even less personality than the soldiers--their video game objective is to yell, wave automatic weapons, and act like utter psychopaths. What better way to establish the Good Guys, eh? Just give the Bad Guys even less personality! Personality is overrated, anyway--especially when the gory consequences of war are shoved in your face with unflinching horror! BHD piles on the gore, mostly for dramatic effect, but since the characters are such cliches, it becomes pure shock value...gore for gore's sake. I've seen better, more justified use of the red stuff in Lucio Fulci films.

Unlike "Apollo 13," this is not a "successful failure," but became a success (financially, that is) by being such a typical exercise in Hollywood sensationalism. Riding high on the wave of nationalism, revenge, and general intolerance brought about by the 9/11 tragedy, BHD arrived at an opportune time, and gave audiences exactly what they wanted--a sink-your-claws-into-the-armrest propaganda film where the U.S. Army's angelic duty boils down to blowing away foreigners (a testament to this film's racial and nationalistic bias is the fact that 19 American soldiers died in contrast with 1,000 Somalis). As if this shallow exercise in war pornography couldn't attest to its own ulterior motives, many critics hailed BHD as "the best war movie ever," among other ostentatious remarks, right as the full-speed "War on Terror" campaign was gripping this country (makes you think, doesn't it?). As for myself, I could only raise a skeptical eyebrow at the proceedings, as I pondered U.S. foreign policy, racial stereotypes through the years, and Hollywood's ability to make a mint by ignoring history. This forum seems divided--as is the case in America right now--between gung-ho 'patriotic' comments and dissidents. To disparage the flag or this film is unpatriotic--but is it patriotic, then, to accept everything you see and hear without question? Or is it more patriotic to bask in the jingoistic arrogance of BHD? If you believe that to be true, then by all means see this movie. As for everybody else, "Bowling for Columbine" will soon be out on video.

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Sweeping, gutsy, eloquent, astonishing, moving...yeah
secondtake26 July 2010
Black Hawk Down (2001)

As much as this is a nerve-wracking, non-stop, high intensity war film that leaves you exhausted, you know that this is barely a whisper of a hint of the skim of the real thing, being there, being shot at and shooting, facing death on both sides.

But what this means more than anything is the movie comes as close as a normal movie can to the intensity of being there. Black Hawk Down is a director's nightmare, and Ridley Scott pulls it off, minute after minute, with lucidity. When the layering of images, the pace, and and the kinetic motion of the camera seem overwhelming, Scott (and his crew, notably Polish cinematographer Slawomir Idziak and Italian editor Pietro Scalia) make this completely absorbing and sensible. The cutting and the multitude of images interwoven for scene after scene would overwhelm most people, but there is becomes poetic and logical without ever becoming easy.

The acting? It sometimes seems to tip toward a hyped up, grand version of archetypes that we know and sometimes expect in war movies, but each of the many main men are intensely believable and realized. The music, too, might threaten to be manipulative, but it never draws attention to itself. And so on. Meaning only that this is a Hollywood movie, for sure, but a really really good one. It plays up the cinematic drama that makes movies movies (and not documentaries) but it is so thoughtfully and artistically considered, it rises above.

Is it a masterpiece? Well, it lacks what you might call utter originality or invention, or even insight. When you finish, you sigh with relief that you've survived, but there is no inner searching left to do. This is partly because this is the truth of war, based on real events. And it's intention is to submerse you in that world, and hold your head under until you are screaming for air.
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Ridley Scott's harrowing film is a revelation
Vishal_s_kumar10 April 2010
Black Hawk Down premiered in December of 2001, a mere three months after the world had faced the harsh reality of the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. I vividly remember a small controversy brewing at that time, questioning the film's release in the wake of the attacks. Apparently, some critics felt that the film was arriving too soon after the attacks and that audiences weren't ready to see a film that dealt with the realities of the military and terrorism. Despite those concerns, the film was heralded as an instant classic; moviegoers responded by turning up in droves. Perhaps the reason behind Black Hawk Down's success lies in the strong sense of optimism the film displays, in spite of the tragedy that it portrays on screen.

Somalia, 1993: A small team of Army Rangers and Delta Force Troops on a peace-keeping mission in Somalia, attempt to help avert mass genocide and to protect Somali citizens from barbaric acts of violence and the various militias that occupy the country. When one hundred American soldiers are sent into Mogadishu to arrest a handful of particularly sadistic militia leaders, they find themselves in the midst of an international incident with deadly consequences. Each soldier will be confronted with the realities and horrors of combat as they protect innocent civilians and each other from the surging ranks of hostile forces. Black Hawk Down is a relentless, harrowing and true story of bravery, in the face of the horrors of war.

Black Hawk Down can be a seriously difficult film to watch; its hyper-realistic portrayal of battle and in-your-face violence drive home the almost impossible adversity that the soldiers are faced with. The film is nothing if not extraordinarily unnerving. By situating the viewer in the line of fire and in the midst of the battle, Director Ridley Scott achieves the effect of rendering his audience in a near state of panic. It's an unforgettable, exhausting and purposely unpleasant experience.

One of the most amazing things about Black Hawk Down is that in spite of the seemingly random confusion represented on screen, the film brilliantly maps out the soldiers' strategies and tactics. There is, indeed, a method in all of the madness. Being a true virtuoso, Mr. Scott frames the action so precisely, and through such perfect camera angles and placement, that we are able to follow all of the action on screen as though we are participating in the battle. With just about any other director, this kind of controlled chaos could have led to a very confusing film experience for the viewer. It is clear that every last detail of this film had been thoroughly choreographed and intricately planned. Mr. Scott's under-appreciated skills as a visual storyteller make this film a success. Ultimately, Black Hawk Down is a painful film that shows us the realities of war and the horrors of the situation in Somalia. Whatever your political affiliations or opinions might be, this is an important film that deserves to be seen.
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Blackhawk Down Left Me Speechless
JoeFA28 September 2005
After watching this movie I was in a daze for about a 1/2 hour. So graphic, so real, so tragic. I had seen Saving Private Ryan and I was shook up by that movie but I rationalized well, that was a Great War...past...out of sight, out of mind...not real.

But when I saw Black Hawk Down I thought, wow so this is what war is really like. Brothers in arms, dying in each others arms. Professionals (like the Delta operators), wanting to do a good job and sometimes failing and sometimes paying the ultimate price...

On another level, I can say that I admire these young men (and some old ones there too!) for fighting proficiently while being out numbered, surrounded, cut off and in a seemingly hopeless fix. Especially I will always remember Sgts. Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon for their bravery and professionalism. If I was the downed pilot I cannot think of the emotions I would have felt if these two guys came to stand by me and possibly die with me.

To me the question being raised by this movie is not "Do we avoid situations like this in the future?" but "How do we do it right next time?". I recommend it most highly!
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