Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Action, Drama
  • 2001
  • 144 mins [S]

Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down

Synopsis

Ridley Scott's vivid, visceral war drama based on true events. An elite American force stirs up a hornets' nest of murderous resistance on the streets of Mogadishu when their operaton misfires

Critic's Review

The year 2001 saw a mini-trend in 'faction' war stories, from the apparently faithful and wholly excellent 'Band Of Brothers' on television, to the less dependable - and infinitely more shallow - Pearl Harbor on the big screen. In terms of style and credibility, Black Hawk Down fits between those extremes.

The film describes the infamous Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. Appalled at thecivil war in Somalia that had left 300,000 people dead, the US decided to take matters into its own hands, with direct action against the Somalian warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. A daring mission was planned, in which 120 elite solders were sent into Mogadishu, in order to abduct two of Aidid's lieutenants. The operation was meant to take an hour, but from the moment two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down in the city, the plan went to pieces. Fifteen hours later, 18 Americans were dead, 73 wounded and hundreds of Somalians killed. As Sam Shepherd's orchestrating general points out, "we've stirred up the hornet's nest and are fighting the entire city".

Scott sets out to depict - with unprecedented detail and intensity - that long day of street warfare. Imagine the opening 30 minutes of Saving Private Ryan extended to an entire film, and a long film at that. The result is visceral, horrific and exhausting. It is also slightly self-defeating. For the first hour or so, the action is so frenetic, the soldiers' characters so poorly delineated, that it's impossible either to know precisely what is happening, or care. Only with a lot of effort following the story strands - all of which lead to the salvage of the helicopters and their occupants - can the film really have an effect.

Despite the presence of 'stars' Hartnett and McGregor (the latter an amiable, low-key presence), it is essentially an ensemble piece in which the less starry character actors shine most, particularly Sizemore and Fichtner. Australian Eric Bana, sporting a heavy southern American accent, also gives a notable performance. The ensemble also includes a gamut of Brits trying out US accents - Orlando Bloom, Ioan Gruffudd, Jason Isaacs and Ewen Bremner (in his second US armed forces role with Bruckheimer, after Pearl Harbor), who provides a vague whiff of comic relief.

It looks fantastic, not least because it boasts helicopter scenes to rival those of Apocalypse Now. Plus, Scott and his team (stuntmen notably) have performed quite a feat - the technical skill involved in choreographing such a movie is remarkable.

Scott subtly questions the arrogance of American military interventionism, while at the same time celebrating that much-touted Yankee sense of brotherhood, manifested here in the mantra "leave no man behind".

In a nutshell: The result is a mixture of gung-ho (Scott made G.I. Jane, remember) and provocation - that will either leave you cold, or wipe you out from the rushing adrenaline.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, Ewen Bremner, William Fichtner, Orlando Bloom, Johnny Strong, Sam Shepard, Jeremy Piven, Jason Isaacs, Ewan McGregor, Ron Eldard
  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Writer: Ken Nolan
  • Producer: Ridley Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer
  • Photographer: Slavomir Idziak
  • Composer: Hans Zimmer, Lisa Gerrard

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 The Three Stooges

    The Three Stooges

    The Farrelly Brothers pay tribute to The Three Stooges as Sean Hayes, Will Sasso and Chris Diamantopoulos bring a new take on Larry, Curly and Moe

    On Film4: 4 Jul 7:10PM

  • Film4 Extract

    Extract

    Jason Bateman stars as a hapless factory owner trying to cope with his wife's suspected infidelity and the employees trying to take advantage of him

    On Film4: 30 Jun 11:05PM

  • Film4 Arbitrage

    Arbitrage on Film4

    Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling star in a drama about a hedge fund manager who makes a crucial error while attempting to sell his portfolio

  • Film4 Kick Ass

    Summer Action Season 2015 on Film4

    Twelve nights of blockbuster action and adventure, every night from 9 on Film4

Watch On TV

9:00PM
Thu 02 Jul

New to Film4

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share