Black Hawk Down (2001)
Review by HTQ4

Written by Ken Nolan, based on the book by Mark Bowden
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, Sam Shepard, William Fitchner, Jason Issacs, Ewen Bremmer, Tom Hardy, Charlie Hofheimer, Tom Guiry, Ron Eldard, Steven Ford, Gregory Sporleder and Brian Van Holt


Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Rent it

America's Delta Force, Army Rangers and the 160th SOAR were sent to Mogadishu, Somalia by the Clinton Administration as "Peacekeepers" to help restore order to a country being ravaged by Mohamed Farrah Aidid and his militia. He and the militia are starving the people and using food as a weapon to keep hold of his power. The U.S. military forces pretty much had their hands tied during the entire operation. They go out on an operation to try to capture some of Aidid's top officers. It is supposed to be a short one hour operation, but it turns out to be much more than that. When a Black Hawk helicopter gets shot down, the capture operation becomes a rescue/evacuation operation. The Clinton Administration, fearing an escalation, refuses to provide air support for the men left on the ground overnight in the middle of hostile territory. The men have to rely on each other to get themselves out and no man got left behind.

This is a really nice tribute to the men who lost their lives during this operation. It really shows how pointless these "peacekeeping" missions really are. The men and women of the U.S. Military were slowly becoming the world's police force, but they were not really allowed to do everything that was necessary to obtain their objectives. Every aspect of this mission was flawed from the beginning. The biggest example of this is that the Rangers are trained to use the cover of night to attack by surprise. This mission had little more than a couple of hours warning and it was supposed to go down in broad daylight.

The cast was really well chosen for their roles. Josh Hartnett proves in this film that he can be an actor when he's given a proper script and story to work with. But it's not all about his character either. It is a really nicely balanced ensemble cast and each of them pulls their own weight. The cinematography is beautiful and you are really given the feel of how desperate Somalia was at this time in history. More than anything, though, this movie really made me mad at how cocky our government can be (and usually is) about their deployment of our military forces around the world. It does no good to have a military presence somewhere if you are going to leave them high and dry when the political shit hits the fan. The men and women of the U.S. military aren't stupid and can tell when they being used as political pawns--and it really has a negative effect on the morale of everyone on the ground.

The DVD treatment is not the treatment that this film deserves. Basically, there is only a thirty minute "behind the scenes" featurette, and even though it is good as far as these featurettes go, it really isn't enough to show what the actors and filmmakers went through to have this film made in the first place. It would have been nice to have a director's commentary track or even some text-only notes on the history behind the story. The filmographies are interesting, but not great and you can't help but notice the same films showing up on several of the cast and crew members' resumes. Even the theatrical trailers menu is disappointing. There are only two trailers on the DVD: Spider-Man and The One.

The movie alone makes this DVD worth watching, but I would hold out for a better DVD treatment before adding it to your collection.

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