Documentary-style film captures nature of war

Based on the book by war correspondent Mark Bowden, Blackhawk Down offers a hard hitting account of 1993’s disaterous U.S Army Ranger/Delta Team operation in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Beginning as a routine operation to capture Somalian Warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid’s two top lieutenants, the operation quickly escalated into the largest ground battle involving American soldiers since the Vietnam war. In the end 18 American soldiers would lie dead, along with hundreds of Somalians.
Naturally, due to the sensitive content, this film will be the centre of much controversy. Many will call it a racist, jingoistic army recruiting film, while others will claim it is the hardest hitting war movie since Saving Private Ryan.
This reviewer falls into the second catagory. In fact, what is most refreshing about this film is the way in which it never tries to undermine the futility of war. Immediately afterwards, the U.S pulled out of Somalia, a place where many claim the U.S had never any right to be in the first place.
Director Ridley Scott brings his usual flair to the procedings, while producer Jerry Bruckheimer attempts to erase all memories of 2001′ s other Bruckheimer war movie Pearl Harbor.
Luckily the film succeeds in all of the areas in which Pearl Harbor had failed. In lieu of Pearl Harbor’s slick MTV war style, director Scott bring viewers his own gritty style, similarly employed in Scott’s earlier film Gladiator.
The pace never lags, and the procedings seem to have been given a shot of adrenaline. Probably the best way to describe this film is as a very long expansion of the opening 40 minutes of Saving Private Ryan.
Also of note is the exceptional cast, including three members of the Pearl Harbor cast, Josh Hartnett, William Fitchner and Tom Sizemore.
Unlike their workman-like performances in the earlier film (in particular Hartnett’s) the returning cast all contributed memorable performances. Of special note are two Europeans, Ewan McGregor (who drops his Scottish accent) and Jason Issacs (who adopts an excellent Southern accent).
Issacs character also contributes what will no doubt become the film’s signature catch word, an affirmative grunt. While leaving the theatre, I managed to hear more than a few immitations of this grunt.
While Blackhawk Down may not be the greatest examination of war from a psychological standpoint (that honor goes to Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket), or the most ponderous examination of the nature of war, it is nevertheless an unforgettable experience. Attendance is manditory.


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