The film takes place in Somalia in 1993 when the U.S. sent special forces into Somalia to destabilize the government and bring food and humanitarian aid to the starving population. On October 3rd, 1993 nearly 100 U.S. Army Rangers, commanded by Capt. Mike Steele, were dropped, using Black Hawk helicopters, deep into the capital city of Mogadishu. Their mission: to capture two top lieutenants of a Somali warlord. However, not even the best of plans pan out as expected. Faced with heavy gunfire, the Rangers struggle to complete their mission, save their wounded, and get out of the hot zone. (1)
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Black Hawk Down, based on the true story and best-selling novel by Mark Bowden, is an exciting, riveting, action/war packed movie with Director Ridley Scott at the helm.When it comes to war movies, there are many great ones that come to mind – Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket, and Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. 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.I was born in the Fall of ’95, so growing up I was not made aware of much of the happenings around the world. However, once I discovered this movie in 2010 my parents told me a little bit about it.The Rangers started out with a pretty solid plan that was intended to only take an hour. However, when the Rangers find themselves surrounded and outnumbered 5 to 1 by Somali forces – whose only goal was to shoot any American soldier – it doesn't take long for panic to set in and not even the audience is sure which side is more disorganized. This is when a 1-hr-raid turns into an overnight standoff against the entire city. The battle resulted in 19 death, 73 wounded, and one helicopter pilot captured among the U.S. raid party.(1) At least one Pakistani soldier and one Malaysian soldier were killed as part of the rescue forces.(1)
After "stirring up the hornet's nest", the Rangers struggle to complete their mission and maintain the Rangers motto, "Leave No Man Behind". A key part of the movie is the destruction of two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters. Led by Sgt. Eversmann, the Rangers make their way to secure and recover the crew of Chalk Four, the first Black Hawk crash site, and Warrant Officer Durant, who has now been captured and is the only survivor of the second Black Hawk crash site.The intensity of the ‘thousands’ of Somali forces swarming over the U.S. Rangers, is amazing. In addition, the camerawork is so well done that it brings the audience into the battle and as things progress; the tension continues to build as the situation turn bleak and a sense of hopelessness sets in both for the soldiers and the audience.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, the audience only has to wait thirty minutes for the Rangers' mission to go into effect and the action doesn't stop for the next two hours; as the entire movie is filled with flying bullets, spontaneous explosions, and heavy bloodshed. Because the fighting is so chaotic, it can be hard to follow the action and tell what is happening, while at the same time it’s almost scary how easy it is 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.As expected in a Ridley Scott film, the visuals and camera work are stunning with the movie having a gray almost monochromatic look that makes the orange flames and red blood really stand out. Another Ridley Scott signature is the flying dust, rubble, and debris mixed with the slow motion shots of falling bullet casings and splattered blood. Scott also uses animals and everyday people in some of the shots to show that this firefight is happening in the middle of both a populated market district and people's homes.In terms of characterization, Black Hawk Down’s characterization works better because the soldiers are a little more personalized. Here the soldiers have their names taped to the front of their helmets so that viewers can easily tell who is who throughout the raid. Some of the best performances in a war film can be seen in this movie. Tom Sizemore plays the ‘gung-ho’ Lt. McKnight, Josh Hartnett plays Sgt. Eversmann who feels personally responsible for every man lost. Sam Shepard plays Major-General William Garrison who sits back in the safe zone and watches his doomed men become overpowered by the enemy. Eric Bana’s plays SFC. Norm “Hoot” Gibson whose lines really drive home the point of why U.S. soldiers do what they do. Although Ewan McGregor plays a more minor and insignificant role, his role of Grim offers the audience little bit of comic relief from the hectic action of the film.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? I believe that Black Hawk Down has accurately achieved its goal of creating a realistic representation of an event in recent history. This movie will most likely leave viewers aghast and incredulous of what they're watching, and for some, it may be hard to believe that real live soldiers actually fought in battle like this. Overall, Black Hawk Down this movie is an amazing feat that gives the audience 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.
“My love, stay strong and you will do well in life. I love you and my children deeply. Today and tomorrow let each day grow and grow. Keep smiling and never give up even when things get you down. So in closing my love, tonight tuck my children in bed warmly. Tell them I love them, then hug them for me and give them both a kiss goodnight for daddy.”– Sergeant First Class Randall D Shughart (voice-over credits)
Final Vote (my opinion)Worth Seeing: 4.5 - 5 starsWorth Buying: 4.5 - 5starsI hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch Black Hawk Down.
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