Published on September 12th, 2007 | by Chris0
Black Hawk Down (2002)
You'll have to pardon the R-rated nature of this review, but damn, after seeing this (actually for the 2nd time) I can't help it.
In a word, Black Hawk Down is intense. In two words: Fucking Intense. So intense that when its over you will feel worn out, angry, and down. And that's just as it should be. You'll also feel thankful, at least I hope you will.
Black Hawk Down is based on actual events surrounding the capture attempt of General Aidid in Somalia in 1993. I'm not going to repeat history, you can read all about it on good ol' Wikipedia.
What strikes me most about this movie is that if you were to look up the definition of "clusterfuck" in the dictionary, there'd be instructions to watch it. The series of decisions and events are portrayed that culminated in the loss of 19 (or 18 depending on your source) lives and over 70 wounded in a single operation over 18 hours or so. If nothing else, it should show just how totally fucked up the current (even then) military "micro-management" style has become. You start yelling at the screen, and getting downright pissed off....
If I go down that road I'll be writing for hours, so that's all I'm going to say about that. Back to the movie....
Actually things start off rather slow, but really all we're doing is the obligatory character development and story set-up. It's unfortunate it takes 30 minutes, but once that's over, the fight is on.
And it does. Not. Stop. The constant pinging of ricochets, the low growl of the Blackhawks, the hurried buzzing of the Kiowas, and the yelling. It just doesn't stop until its all over. The confusion and mis-steps that result, and compound the situation will make your head spin. The General walking into the operating room and wiping up pools of blood was a nice touch. A bit obvious, but a nice touch none the less.
Is it graphic? Yes. Make no bones about it, if you've got a soft stomach then you should probably avoid it, prep yourself, or watch it with someone who's seen it already. You will see things that aren't pretty, nor are they fun. Understand that also, this is by no means a "fun" movie. There is no "happy ending" where everyone waves the flag and triumphant music rings out, quite the opposite in fact. Not something you just pop in on a Saturday afternoon with a bowl of corn and a brew.
You'll also wonder just what the fuck we were doing there in the first place. I know I did then, and still do now. Even after watching this. Yeah you get the Delta's little speech at the end, about doing it for the guy sitting next to you and all that. But I don't really see how after the last hour and a half of hell on earth, that matters at all.
So what should you take away from this? After you watch it, go outside to your patio, sit down, listen to the quiet, and thank God you weren't there. And then thank the guys who *do* do this stuff. And if you are one of them, then I'm glad you're still here to read this, and thanks.
The cast? I can't really fault anyone's performance. Although it is funny watching Ewan MacGregor as "Grimsey" try to feign an American accent. Also starring is Josh Harnett as Sgt. Eversmann, Tom Sizemore (who oddly seems to fall back into his "Private Ryan" role at the end), Eric Bana, William Fichtner, Sam Shepard, Ron Eldard and many, many more.
The audio and cinematography is also quite well done, I viewed this on DVD on a proper digital 5.1 setup, and it is utilized as well as it can be. I imagine though if you were to view this on a standard two (or even one) channel set the noise would start to "mush" together, for lack of a better term.
I'm giving Black Hawk Down a full nine. I have yet to give out a total ten, and I'm not sure what would make that happen, but this is close. Prepare yourself, put away the kids, and watch when you're ready.
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Summary: In a word, Black Hawk Down is intense. In two words: Fucking Intense. So intense that when its over you will feel worn out, angry, and down. And that's just as it should be. You'll also feel thankful, at least I hope you will.