Blackhawk Down (2001) 3.86/5 (2)


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Rating: The Good – 74.4
Genre: War, Action
Duration: 144 mins
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Tom Hardy

Describing a film that focuses on a single battle which doesn’t even last 24 hours as epic might seem a little counter-intuitive but Ridley Scott’s dramatisation of the 1993 Delta Force/Rangers incursion into the Somalian city of Mogadishu is as deserving of that description as A Bridge Too Far was. Like that film it focuses on a number of different characters across different aspects of the mission and each with their own personalities. The pace of this film is relentless and it’s to Scott’s, writer Ken Nolan’s, and the actors’ credit that the characters manage to develop in such a taut whirlwind of action. There are too many good performances to mention them all but Josh Hartnett and in particular Eric Bana score very well.

There are a few cliches littered throughout the main body of the film and the dialogue can be a little uninspired and at times jingoistic. Furthermore, despite a few token gestures, the Somalian rebels are portrayed as a mindless horde of automatons or cartoon evil doers. However, in the absence of any loftier ambitions, Scott and co. find themselves with an excuse to cram as much action as possible into its two and a half hours which isn’t a bad thing because the action is as good as any war film before it or since. Most important for a movie with action on a scale this big, it’s also perfectly co-ordinated (due largely to Pietro Scalia’s sublime editing) so that the viewer can keep track of events.

Unfortunately, Jerry Bruckheimer’s ugly, heavy handed, cliche-ridden touch is all over the ending and it undoes much of the power of the brutal war sequences by hammering the audience over the head with soppy sentiment. It could have ruined the whole thing but thankfully, the visceral thrust of the film is so immersive that the ending is practically negated by it. Also worth mentioning, is that this is one of the few pre-blu-ray technology films that transfers superbly well to that format, a testament to Slawomir Izdiak’s stunningly graded cinematography.

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