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Film Review - Black Hawk Down
The trouble with war movies is they get political. Either they are completely gung-ho about how righteous we are, or they completely damn the common foot soldier. Rarely do war films just try to tell it like it was.
Black Hawk Down is such a film. It is the true story of American troops in Somalia attempting to arrest a warlord. Although there is a small set up explaining why the Americans were in Somalia, this is a war picture told through the eyes of the soldiers.
The mostly young men are sent on what is believed to be a very short mission. So short they didn't take water. They end up in a 15 hour fire fight for their lives.
Somehow Everything Goes Wrong
The film in almost documentary style depicts a disaster unfolding. From the Commanding Officer not realizing how organized the opposition was, to positioning slow moving helicopters too near an enemy carrying shoulder-mounted missiles. The Commanding Officer violated the first rule of war, know your enemy.
Soon, rocket propelled grenades shoot down two helicopters. A convoy which was meant to be protected by the choppers now must complete the mission and then rescue the helicopter crews. The battle field quickly becomes chaotic. Men are confused about what is happening, and which way to drive.
What is also apparent is the bravery of these soldiers. At the end of the picture you are struck by the list of American dead, other than helicopter crewmen all killed in action were Sergeants. What does this tell you? These men were putting their men first.
I'm somewhat surprised to see the popularity of this film. This is not by any means a happy picture. Add this to the worry caused by September 11, and Black Hawk Down doesn't make anyone's Feel Good Movie of the Year list. Perhaps, the public has decided to see what they are asking soldiers to do.
If there is a statement here it is simply war is loud, confusing, unpredictable, and deadly. It is not something to be entered into lightly.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Released in 2001
MPAA Rating: R
Reviewed by Mongo