for intense, realistic, graphic war violence, and for language.
as Staff Sergeant Matt Eversmann
From a technical standpoint, there is nothing wrong with Black Hawk Down, yet there was something missing from the overall picture.
The movie starts with text flashing on the screen giving us some background about what we are about to see. In 1992, the U.S. sent troops into Somalia to capture their militant leader warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid, and restore order to the famine-ridden country. The whole process was supposed to take three weeks, but six weeks later, the troops were still there. In October of 1992, there was a mission that was supposed to take down some of Aidid's major lieutenants. But the mission that was supposed to last no more than 30 minutes, ended up taking over 15 hours, and ended in the death of 19 U.S. servicemen, and 1000 Somalian fighters. The movie is the story of those 15 hours, and the horrors that the U.S. soldiers went through. The title of the movie comes from when first one, then a second U.S. Black Hawk helicopter were shot down by the Somalis.
First off let me state that I am generally not a fan of war films. That being said, this movie was as intense and overwhelming as any film I have ever seen. The first 35 minutes are spent telling the back story, introducing us to some of the characters, and filling us in on what the mission will be. The next 90-100 minutes are spent at war. If you remember the intense battle sequence in Saving Private Ryan that opened that movie, imagine extending that sequence for another hour. Black Hawk Down for that 90 minute sequence was as hardcore a war film as you are likely to ever see. There was nothing I could find wrong with the visuals or audio portions of the film. Like I said earlier, from a technical standpoint, everything seemed perfect. The only problem I really had with the film, is that it was almost too perfect.
Seeing war scenes like that for such a long time was overwhelming. There was almost no down time during that middle of the film, and after a while it became too much. There was so much happening, and so many different groups of soldiers in different places, that I was no longer able to figure out who was doing what and where. Once the battle started, if you were recognizable star like a Josh Hartnett or Tom Sizemore, I couldn't tell you apart from the next guy. When people died, I couldn't tell who died, and whether or not I was introduced to them earlier in the film. There was no emotional attachment to any of the characters other than the fact they were Americans in battle.
Maybe if I was a war buff I could follow the film better, and differentiate between the different types of soldiers and what their respective jobs were. One team is sent in to capture the henchmen, while another team is sent to secure the perimeter, while another is sent in to take the prisoners and escort them back to base camp. To me, there was no difference between any of them, and only one small conflict between groups. I would also like to know why the mission failed so miserably. Was it because we went in thinking we would just go in and come out without any resistance? Were we double-crossed by the man in the cab? Was it just a kid with a phone holding it to the sky that messed everything up? What was so important about the men we were going after? What happened to the guy that was captured in the first part of the film? We see him captures, there's a conversation between him and General Garrison, then we see this guy later in the film smoking a cigar, then nothing is heard from him again. Did he have something to do with what happened? How could the U.S. fighting force walk into a situation where it was thousands of Somali's against a few U.S. soldiers, without some back up plans? Maybe the movie answered these questions, but I didn't see it.
So overall Black Hawk Down is a serious, hardcore war film. It has battle sequences that will make you feel like you're right in the middle of a battle. The look and sound of the film was near perfect. But there was a certain emotion missing from the movie, and a lot of questions left unanswered that would have helped me enjoy it more.
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Black Hawk Down
Somalia: Good Intentions,
Saving Private Ryan
© 2002 Wolfpack Productions