|Black Hawk Down
dir Ridley Scott
scr Ken Nolan
with Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, Sam Shepard, Ron Eldard, Jeremy Piven, Jason Isaacs, William Fichtner, Ewen Bremner, Thomas Hardy, Orlando Bloom, Ioan Gruffudd, Zeljko Ivanek, Johnny Strong, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
release US 28.Dec.01; UK 18.Jan.02
Columbia 01/US 2h24
Director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Hannibal) is back with another very well-crafted, thoroughly entertaining film ... that only hints at what's going on beneath the surface. We're in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993, where a team of American Rangers and Deltas is embarking on a mission that should take about an hour. But just about everything that can go wrong does, and some 18 hours later the survivors can hardly believe what they've just been through.
The superb cast of familiar faces helps us keep all the characters clear as we watch the escalating chaos of battle. After the opening set-up, the film is basically one long fight scene--relentless, energetic and both astonishingly detailed and told on a grand scale. Everything about the film is technically superior, from seamless digital effects to the terrific camera work. And the actors are all up to the challenge of creating interesting characters without the usual dramatic development. Which is precisely the problem: As with most of Scott's films, we can't care about the characters, because they're never brought to life beyond superficial definitions and overwrought melodrama. Despite gritty and kinetic situations, and fine performances all around, we never really know these guys. And the story itself isn't terribly well told, abandoning characters at key moments and failing to adequately pace the action to dramatic effect. There is also a heavy stream of idealism and gung ho heroism threatening to turn the film into flag-waving, chest-beating Americana. The fact that this is a true story helps keep that in check, as do the surprising turn of events which, along with the cast, keep the film alive and make it well worth seeing. If you don't look too deeply.
"It may have received mixed reviews from critics, but this was an exhilirating film about the randomness of war that left you thinking this is about as near as I ever want to get to being there myself. Great performance from Tom Sizemore (what a star!) and the rest of the cast, marred only very slightly by Ewan McGregor's dodgy American accent! Check this one out, you will not regret it." --Paul Q, Bedford 21.Jan.02
"I saw on the TV news that the Minnesota Coalition of Somalians were protesting the movie - saying that the movie was inaccurate, and that the Americans were only there to capture a small group of leaders. I want the Minnesota Somolians to go see this movie - it is quite clear that they are only trying to capture this leader and his aides, and that is why they went into hostile territory in the first place - they had received information that the leader was in this particular building. Unfortunately, 2 choppers went down and 19 American soldiers were killed, and the leader was still not captured. That being said, I have to say we liked this movie - it seems the current war movies make it quite clear that war is not wonderful, and men dying is not wonderful, most soldiers are under 20 or in their early 20s - just kids in my opinion. Yet though it paints a horrible picture of war and fighting and the ugliness of dying - it also shows how brave and courageous the men are who fight them. I really think this is a good movie - and highly recommend it - lots of action, and it made me proud of our soldiers." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 25.Jan.02