Retro Review: Black Hawk Down

By: Bryan Montgomery

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Saving Private Ryan helped the resurrection of the war genre in the late 20th century.  Black Hawk Down took the formula from Saving Private Ryan and perfected it for the 21st Century.  Black Hawk Down is a hallmark in film. It has taken a recent event and with an incredible take on heroism, sacrifice and war has transformed it into a feature film.

Mogadishu in 1993 sees a massive force attempt to create a dictatorship in the African City.  The United Nations, led by the Americans, sends a troop to attempt and eventually force peace.  During a quick capture-and-return message, two Black Hawk helicopters are shot down, leading to a night of survival for a group of Army Rangers in a hostile environment.

Any war film fan has Black Hawk Down in their collection.  It is the quintessential war film for the new generation.  There are so many things about this film that simply work that it could take up a whole, fully researched, paper.  The cast is great, led by Josh Hartnett and starring the now-famous faces of William Fictner, Eric Bana, Tom Sizemore, Orlando Bloom, Ewan McGreggor, Jeremy Piven, and Tom Hardy.

The action in the film is non-stop, and fully embraces the chaotic and spontaneous nature of urban warfare.  It is graphic, but it is proper for what director Ridley Scott was attempting to do.  The film is homage to the heroism that occurred on that day, and visually, the film is striking.  Also, the audio is absolutely top notch, and comes highly recommended.

There are few films for which you can say drop you right into the middle of a battle, but Black Hawk Down is one of them. It is an engrossing experience from the get-go, as you get to know all of the characters and follow them through their endeavors, you truly begin to feel a real connection to their situations.

The main detractor from this film is the level of reality that it has to contemporary events.  This is not a film that is like Saving Private Ryan.  For those with members of their family still in the armed forces, this is a film that hits close to home.  Beware of that going in and you will find a lot to enjoy about Black Hawk Down.

For the sake of brevity, there is only one thing to say about Black Hawk Down.  Go. See. It.  Don’t waste any more time not watching one of the best films of the early 21st century, and one of the best war films of all time.  In the same vein as Saving Private Ryan, Glory, and The Hurt Locker, Black Hawk Down is a film that will go down as one of the all-time best war movies, and should not be missed for any reason.


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