Black Hawk Down (2001), Cert 15.

Director - Ridley Scott.

Writers - Mark Bowden & Ken Nolan.

Starring - Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana, Ewan Mcgregor, Tom Sizemore, Ewan Bremner, William Fichtner, Jason Issacs & Orlando Bloom.


Premise - October 3rd, 1993, Somalia. American troops are sent into Mogadishu to capture Lieutenants of the Somalian warlord. However, when two Black Hawk choppers go down, the fit hit's the shan.

Black Hawk Down is a very intense film. It's easily as intense as those first, stunning thirty minutes of Saving Private Ryan, but stretched out over the later hour and a half of the films two hour running time.

The first half hour of the film is spent setting up the characters for the slaughter. There's desk jockey Grimes (Ewan McGregor), first time in charge Ranger Eversmann (Josh Hartnett) & bad ass Hoot (Eric Bana). This is just a small selection of the characters that's introduced in that first half hour. In-fact there are so many characters that you have a hard time keeping track of who's, who.

Consequently when the fighting starts you have trouble caring about any of them, because you don't know them. The only thing I could remember about the characters after the film had finished was that Grimes could make good coffee and that Hoot was a BMF.

Aside from that (and a few other minor points I'll come to later) though I enjoyed the film immensely. The action is (I assume, never having been in combat myself) the most realistic depiction of being in a combat situation as I have seen. Limbs are blown off, torso's ripped apart and soldiers are covered in sweat and grime. It's dirty, it's gritty. it's how I would imagine it would be in real life.

Ridley Scott has filmed a stunning movie here, a return to form after the risible 'Hannibal'. Using some of the techniques from Gladiator to infuse a state of urgency to the action scenes. I was surprised to see Bruckheimers name on the credits as it almost feels too subtle for him. There is no sign of his trademark cheese to be found, apart from perhaps one scene. It's the worst kind of cliched war movie scene that you could have, the 'Tell my mom I fought well. You tell her yourself!' scene, cringe............

As I said earlier it's hard to relate to the characters because of the sheer volume of them, which is a shame because there is some fine talent on show here. Ewan McGregor is always welcome and it's nice to see him re-teaming with his Trainspotting buddy Ewan Bremner. Although I don't think they actually shared a scene together. I couldn't take Josh Hartnett seriously in Pearl Harbour and I couldn't here. He's entirely too clean and good looking to be convincing as any kind of armed forces personnel.

Stand out though is Eric Bana as hard-as-nails Delta Force Sergeant Norm 'Hoot' Hootem. He shows here why Ang Lee picked him to be Bruce Banner in next years Hulk adaptation. With this and Chopper he is making a name for himself as a fine actor and hopefully he can go on and have many more fine performances like these.

Aside from the characterisation problems, Black Hawk Down has some other issues. For the most part the enemy is represented as an unstoppable mass, coming towards the troops in waves. There is little or no attempt to make them out to be anything other than killing machines. I was actually reminded of Aliens at some points by the Somalians.

I'm also sure that Black Hawk Down isn't an exact representation of the events that transpired. These kind of films rarely are, usually putting one side in a better light than the other. I'm not familiar with the facts surrounding the actual incident, but I got the feeling that it had been tampered with to make for a better movie. Nothing specific, just a feeling I got.

Niggles aside Black Hawk Down is a good war film that has some stark visions of close quarters, urban combat. It's a stunning looking film that in parts chills to the bone, Worth a look.


6/10 for Black Hawk Down.

Poster Quote - War is hell, again.