Film Review: Black Hawk Down – 7.5/10

‘Once that first bullet goes past your head, politics and all that shit just goes right out the window.…’

There are so many great war films that it is difficult to make something fresh and innovative. Ridley Scott has never been one to follow the herd, however, so it makes sense that he is the only Western filmmaker to have a crack at the Somali Civil War (albeit through the eyes of American soldiers). Black Hawk Dawn takes a talented ensemble cast and drops them in the middle of a war in which they are not equipped to fight…

A group of elite U.S. soldiers led by SSG Matt Eversmann (Josh Hartnett) attempt to capture Omar Salad Elmi and Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdiid, two of Aidid’s top advisers. Very quickly, this seemingly straightforward operation turns into a clusterfuck of the highest order. The supporting cast includes (deep breath): Tom Sizemore, Jason Isaacs, Ewan McGregor, Tom Hardy, Orlando Bloom, Sam Shepard, Eric Bana, William Fichtner and Jeremy Piven.

Now this being a Ridley Scott picture, he doesn’t waste time with either historical accuracy or any kind of characterisation of the Somali characters. If you can get past that, however, there is a high-octane military thriller waiting for you that never lets up for its entire two-and-a-half-hour run time. While it seems odd to have such a stacked cast and then spend so much of the film embroiled in a firefight that doesn’t involve much actual acting, there is no denying the visual mastery at play here. Sure, as it is 2001 everything is blue and grey and there is a faint nu-metal hum in the background of some sequences but the editing and sound design are excellent and the various battle sequences are visually compelling.

Black Hawk Down makes warfare seem desperate, futile and incredibly exciting all at once. I bet it plays great in an actual cinema.

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