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Overall Rating
3.99

Awesome40.3%
Worth A Look: 33.46%
Average: 15.59%
Pretty Bad: 6.08%
Total Crap: 4.56%

15 reviews, 173 user ratings


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Black Hawk Down
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by MP Bartley

"No animals were hurt during the making of this movie. As for humans, well.."
4 stars

It was going to be so, so bad. Another Bruckheimer war film after Pearl Harbor. It was going to be jingoistic, stars-and-stripe waving rubbish. There was surely going to be a subplot where some army Nurse creates a love triangle with Josh Hartnett and Ewan McGregor before one of them dies hurling himself in front of a grenade to save the other from certain death. But wait, what's this? Bruckheimer seems to have learnt something...

...which is if you're going to try and recreate a tragic event in military history, get a director who will actually do the job, instead of some cock-sucking little servant boy grateful for any titbits you throw him from your 'in' pile on your desk (hello Michael Bay!)


For although this is a Bruckheimer production, this is a Ridley Scott film. Yes, there's the typical sunset shot.Yes, helicopters glide over sunny beaches making Somalia look like a summer break. But that's where the Bruckheimer-isms end. Because Scott has created a riveting infantrymens point of view of the chaos of war and he never lets us forget that above all this mission was a complete fuck-up.


Somalia, 1993, and warlord Mohamed Farrah Idid holds the country to ransom by withholding food supplies and letting the population slowly starve. Aid workers attempt to remedy the situation but come under attack and are forced to pull out. Enter the US Delta Force and Army Rangers. A surveillance mission spots two of Idid's most trusted aides in Mogadishu and General Harrison (Sam Sheperd) comes up with a snatch'n'grab mission: ground forces to hold the area and grab the aides while helicopters provide cover from the air. He estimates it should only take an hour at most but once they enter the area they come under heavy fire, resulting in two of the helicopters being shot down and around 170 soldiers being surrounded by a city full of armed rebels which is where the shit really hits the fan...



'Black Hawk Down' is obviously going to be well known for one thing, and that is Scott's recreation of what became a near day long battle. It's the most buttock clenchingly scary version of war since 'Saving Private Ryan'. If you take the last half-hour of that film, where the company defends a bombed out town against an onslaught of tanks, multiply it by three and add the relative size of the forces from 'Zulu' you have the essential plot of 'Black Hawk Down'. True, there's no major attempt to put the mission in a political context but it works both ways. Although there's no attempt to show the Somali point of view (Idid is never seen), we're also never in doubt that this is America way in over it's head. Most soldiers don't have a clue why they're there and are ill-prepared for the ferocity of resistance. It never for minute screams "GO AMERICA!!!".


Instead Scott focuses on the terror of the situation and it's a mighty achievement. Despite the utter chaos Scott never loses control. Flitting expertly from pov shots from the soldiers trapped on the streets, to overhead shots from the remaing helicopters and back to the command centre where Harrison looks on in growing alarm at what his monitors are showing him, Scott makes a big claim for his name to be on the Oscar shortlist again. Topping the scenes from 'Saving Private Ryan' is no easy feat, and when you consider that he has a whole city, not just one beach, to play with it makes Scott's feat even more impressive.


There's a cursory attempt to introduce the characters before battle, but there's so many that once in battle it does become difficult to keep track of who's who. At one point I thought Sergeant Eversmann (Josh Hartnett) was in a humvee, but two minutes we cut back to him still on the streets. However Scott balances this problem out by stealing a trick from Oliver Stone's JFK: making most of the characters a well known 'face', so even if we don't know the characters name we know the actor. It's a starry cast also including Ewan McGregor, Ewan Bremner, William Fichtner, Jason Issacs, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana and Tom Sizemore who after this, Saving Private Ryan and Pearl Harbor seems to be cornering the market in gruff army types. But it's not a 'star' movie, with no-one character dominating the movie. Everyone is fine in their role, including Hartnett making amends for Pearl Harbor, but it's a movie where everyone matters not just the good-looking ones. See what happens when you don'tstick a love story in for the hell of it?


If 'Black Hawk Down' has one problem then it's in Scotts usual lack of character detail. With the possible exception of 'Gladiator' and 'Thelma and Louise' Scotts' films and characters rarely work on an emotional level. We never really care that much when lives are lost here. Sure, we're scared as hell along with them but it lacks the emotional punch of a '...Ryan' or even 'Three Kings'. The screenplay never gives much depth to the characters either, relying on stock cliches like the desk-boy given his first mission, the loner who does things his way, the too eager recruit who you just know is going to come to grief sooner rather than later. And there's also plenty of "you'll be all right son" and "I just want to make a difference" dialogue for the cliche-o-meter.


But that's just a niggling flaw as we are shown how horrific this day became. We see bodies blown in half, graphic field surgery on a shot artery and Scott racks the tension up constantly, with one scene where a wounded pilot is besieged in his ruined copter a highlight of where you do actually get some feeling for the character.

It's relatively easy to review this movie as it's basically "here are the characters- oh fuuuuucccckkkk!" and your liking will depend on how much action you can stomach with no change in plot. But since when have real events leant themselves to a structure? I'm torn between a four or five star rating, because although there's no real emotional depth, Scott has made an astonishing portrait of a very, very bad day for the American army and has to be commended for his bravery not to douse the film in patriotism and to just focus on the plight of the men who were there. I'll have to settle for the four star rating but if I could cheat I'd give it four and a half. You may not grieve for the characters but you'll be just as shellshocked as they are.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5688&reviewer=293
originally posted: 01/29/02 00:47:20
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell not bad but the book is alot better 3 stars
11/19/14 kenner Best war film since Saving Private Ryan 5 stars
10/04/14 zig zag One of the best war movies ever made 5 stars
8/19/12 edutra SHIT. UNWATCHALBE. 1 stars
7/24/10 bagwell5 Should have won Best Picture for 2001. An intense & exciting war film. 5 stars
6/22/10 RLan If you like action films, this is for you. 3 stars
4/10/10 Ricky Beautiful but sad story 5 stars
12/12/09 Caleb Bateman Best movie ever, i totally love the game also, based off a very true story! AWSOME 5/5 5 stars
10/23/09 Rachel Very good story line. Would recommend everyone to watch it. 5 stars
8/15/09 Jeff Wilder Good "you are there" war picture. 4 stars
6/09/09 bw Solid War movie and historically accurate 5 stars
4/17/09 melodi One of my favorite movies...It is awesome. 5 stars
3/24/09 Craig Movie was great. Not many people know that super 65 actually went down 5 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Story! 5 stars
9/17/08 The Prince of Phenominal the greatest war movie of all time 5 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT BEAUTIFUL IN ITS UGLINESS AND SAD IN ITS BEAUTY 2 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK If Star wars were more like this, then i would like it. 5 stars
11/29/06 Chris Sweet, Awesome, Exellent 5 stars
9/22/06 Alyssa Hale Excellent movie! The actors were great! 5 stars
8/20/06 Wayne Read the reality at: www.socialistworker.org/2002-1/395/395_08_BrendanSexton.shtml 3 stars
7/22/06 Indrid Cold Ever since Saving Pvt Ryan, all war movies have had that stark, documentary look. 4 stars
5/27/06 Poof Goriest war film but it's still good 3/5 4 stars
5/23/06 Agent Sands *I don't think the movie has enough action. Just not enough. *(sarcasm) 4 stars
1/16/06 Frank Rountree I'm a retired U.S. Armed Forces veteran, and this movie was awesome! Stand up and salute! 5 stars
12/03/05 cooler one of the best war movies ever made 5 stars
11/20/05 Moctezuma A knockout 5 stars
11/16/05 Adrian Fucking awesome in every way. Incredible action and themes all play out perfectly. 5 stars
8/28/05 Monster W. Kung A disgusting propaganda PIECE OF SHIT. 1 stars
8/23/05 Alyson Generally I don't like war movies but Ewan is hot<3 3 stars
8/18/05 ES Good action but like the whole history behind it, a little too 'yeah we're the USA!' 3 stars
8/08/05 nads the military is for rednecks and suckers. 3 stars
8/07/05 Phil Slick aesthetics yet gritty, this movie really makes you realise the horrors of war. 5 stars
6/22/05 R.W. Welch Starkly realistic account of ambushed mission. A sharply directed nail-biter. 4 stars
6/18/05 ALI F A GREAT SHOWING THE RAHGERS AT THEIR BEST 5 stars
6/11/05 Lucy Not only is Ewan in it but Josh is too! Score!! 4 stars
6/08/05 CJ saving private ryan and this=best war movies of all time 5 stars
5/04/05 Ronin one of the best modern warfare movies. Maybe even the best 5 stars
4/19/05 Jimmy Best war film of all time and definatly must be seen 5 stars
3/13/05 Connes A very good movie 4 stars
12/25/04 DAN Great 5 stars
12/24/04 Matt F. Visually perfect 5 stars
10/31/04 Shawn good movie 5 stars
10/08/04 Vince Amazing cinematography, but hard to tell one character from the other... 4 stars
9/28/04 Archanist_101 WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT 'CS'??????????????????????????????????????????????????? 5 stars
9/23/04 CS could it get any worse? 1 stars
7/30/04 DJ Wtf? Pwnt. 5 stars
6/28/04 cinkcool great movie 5 stars
6/22/04 Kenyon Foxworthy The score is great 5 stars
6/07/04 c this film is great.It really shows you what war really is about 5 stars
3/20/04 Nannette This movie is a real tear jerker. It was a wonderful movie 5 stars
1/31/04 R Very good, displays the fortitude of soldiers 5 stars
11/25/03 Carl Handratty Slyder, did you ever study basic grammar? Doesn't look like it-"It's sure is..." 5 stars
11/25/03 tatum A technical marvel, but emotionally hollow 4 stars
10/15/03 Nic Barber Movie is good, but should be more like book! Dissapointing. 2 stars
5/20/03 Kay Its really good its show the truth to war both ups and downs 4 stars
4/11/03 Jack Bourbon What the film misses seems to simultaneously enhance its purpose. 4 stars
1/26/03 malcolm nice action and effects. zero plot and characterization 3 stars
12/31/02 Chowie-Pie Wow, this movie was very very good, but heartbreaking to think that it's all true 5 stars
12/29/02 Jack Sommersby Jingoistic, context-free garbage. 2 stars
12/23/02 3man Superb movie. Makes you feel like you are there. 5 stars
10/22/02 cinkcool Its not about the gore or the action, its about the conflict and what happened. 5 stars
10/20/02 Connoisseur the gore here makes 'private ryan' look like a disney movie.... bad movie tho 2 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock NO NO NO sludge. 1 stars
9/25/02 Eric Gritty, intense war epic is just brilliant. William Fichtner, Tom Sizemore are standouts. 5 stars
9/20/02 James WHOA!!! Amazing...Hoot, Schtugart, Gordan, Eversman...all extraordinary men 5 stars
8/25/02 Turkish Good stop voting twice, evn tho this is a great movie 5 stars
8/14/02 GOOD one of the greatest war movies ever 5 stars
8/14/02 Bryan Brooks Just don't look for a message or a plot. 3 stars
8/07/02 Obi Wan Whoa! One of the greatest war movies!! Top 5 for sure!! 5 stars
8/06/02 Monster W. Kung An inane piece of crap. 1 stars
7/31/02 GOOD most realistic war movie ever 5 stars
7/25/02 palaboy101 gritty realism 4 stars
7/21/02 sdjfsdkjf better than we were soldiers but not as good as saving private ryan. Very good stuff. 4 stars
7/18/02 Rod Williams They opted for action over character, story over plot, explosions over speeches. Enjoyable! 5 stars
7/15/02 patricia it was to freaking gruesome.i mean does every war movie have to have pointless violence? 3 stars
7/09/02 Eric With its amazing battle scenes and great cast, BHD is the best war film ever. 5 stars
7/04/02 gary vidmar Just goes to show you how Clinton, as a pres., SUCKED ALL ASS! 5 stars
6/22/02 spyguy2 Great amped up action until implodes and becomes monotonous and cliched. Dubious backstory 3 stars
6/18/02 Del Alot of unmentioned Al-Qaeda stuff and most of the starving were Christians... Good, tho. 4 stars
6/16/02 The Bomb 69 completely exhausting, in a good way, Ridley can do no wrong 5 stars
6/10/02 Me Horrible! It has absolutely no plot, script or acting 1 stars
6/08/02 Becky Excellent movie 5 stars
6/07/02 Joe Levy Great! 5 stars
5/24/02 I'm in (L) with a jedi breathtaking 5 stars
5/17/02 viking One of the most powerful war films ever made !!! 5 stars
5/12/02 Matt Much better than the steaming turd that was Behind Enemy Lines 4 stars
5/12/02 Hepta Hooty Overlong collection of sometimes riveting, always tedious, war snippets. 3 stars
4/28/02 Magnum Craphole Quite simply the worst war movie I have ever seen. 1 stars
4/21/02 Phoenix Excellent war film. Gritty and realistic. 5 stars
4/06/02 spacecowboy I loved BHD. I almost cried after realising the futility of war. Great Work. 5 stars
4/05/02 ellie Most graphic, memorable and genuinely brilliant war movie I've seen. 5 stars
4/03/02 girl decient movie but not one I'd see again 4 stars
4/01/02 kjell i loved it 5 stars
3/31/02 benjamin i loved it as much as saving private ryan 5 stars
3/31/02 Film Guy What a Fucking great movie 5 stars
3/28/02 Subberke this movies gives a view of what does people went through !!! it's the best movie in years! 5 stars
3/22/02 daniboy seriously overrated 2 stars
3/20/02 Magnus Persson You said it - fucking awesome! 5 stars
3/12/02 spaceworm An arcade game, complete with disposable bad guys and loud noise. ACKACKACK! 3 stars
3/09/02 pete pls reveiwer eric, read the book. the 'war is hell' comment is quite empty given the facts. 4 stars
3/07/02 sumixam Grows on you - don't expect to be as shocked as 1st time you saw SPR 5 stars
3/06/02 Monster W. Kung Not very good. Has visuals and direction, but lacks intelligence. 3 stars
3/04/02 Doug Unbeleivable? Get a fuckin clue. Im in the Army, nothin was unbelivable. 5 stars
3/03/02 Derek Cool 5 stars
3/01/02 Jimbo Well made film but pretty depressing overall. 3 stars
2/27/02 Shams Huque After LOTR, the best film of the year! 5 stars
2/27/02 rebecca best war movie of the year, thats saying somthing! 5 stars
2/26/02 Bueller Straightforward, unblinking, mostly historical account. Reminiscent of "Tora! Tora! Tora!" 4 stars
2/26/02 ownerofdajoint oneofthebestwarmoviesinthelasttenyearsunforgettablerivetingandunnervingmakesyouangry 5 stars
2/24/02 Alex Brimsfield PERFECT...ABSOLUTELY AWESOME 5 stars
2/24/02 Francis unremittingly grim, boring, cliched, cardboard, unbeliveable, and failed attemps at humour 2 stars
2/23/02 Shrike Intense and utterly relentless. 5 stars
2/22/02 Matthew Smith after the first half hour, the film turns chaotic and never stops 5 stars
2/22/02 mwildema good stuff 5 stars
2/20/02 Linda (very middle-aged) Heartbreaking, tragic, poetic, complex cinematically & politically, painful, anti-war 5 stars
2/20/02 Piz very engaging and exciting, different and unique, yet very Bruckheimer-ish 5 stars
2/18/02 Jim Intense 4 stars
2/18/02 Superdave This movie should be required study at Military acadamies and colleges. First Rate! 5 stars
2/17/02 Clarance Better than Saving Private Ryan... Horrific war scenes combined with touching reality/truth 5 stars
2/17/02 ToneCapone Too bad the Marines didn't spearhead the mission, none of that would've happened. OOH RAH 5 stars
2/15/02 The Boy In The Designer Bubble The starving Samolian women looked like fashion models. 3 stars
2/15/02 Ziggy Stardust no serious questions are raised or no deep emotion... just horrific war scenes n' such... 5 stars
2/15/02 JB Very expensive, very explosive, very simple, very boring. 2 stars
2/12/02 elizaveta It was traumatizing - unsurprisingly. Also, I had a hard time following who was who 3 stars
2/12/02 Doug Very good. The movie was overall acurate, only caught someone calling a sgt sir once :) 5 stars
2/11/02 the Grinch Aiken, try actually seeing the movie or reading the book...U.S. used as U.N.'s heavies. 4 stars
2/11/02 Nicole Great movie, a far cry from Pearl Harbor thank god 5 stars
2/10/02 Vincent Kennedy Good movie, character development would have made it a great movie 4 stars
2/09/02 Suzz Film raising important questions about sending men into war 5 stars
2/08/02 jawsboy24 Not as good as I hoped. Corny, but stylish. Not worth 4 stars, but worth a look 4 stars
2/08/02 Chris Mallari Black Hawk Down, the movie 4 stars
2/08/02 Monday Morning Who needed a script...it was all gun battles. As shallow as they come & way too long. 2 stars
2/05/02 Aiken Drum 18 Americans dead to 10,000 Somalia's. Lets make the U.S out as the good guys? er... 1 stars
2/05/02 necronomIV Very "incomplete" film....doc on History Channel much better 2 stars
2/03/02 Dave T Another propaganda film depicting US soldiers as heroes, when they were really curled up in 1 stars
1/30/02 Phil M. Afficianado Realism and chaos that leaves you limp. Have a stiff drink afterward; it blitzed my brain. 5 stars
1/29/02 TimmyTomorrow Another movie that tells the non-military person that war is hell. 3 stars
1/28/02 Mister Char This movie is a piece of patriotic crap, why can't Ridley Scott make another Gladiator 1 stars
1/28/02 jack who can hate this 5 stars
1/26/02 Steven Young Informative but not at all entertaining.. movie should have been an hour shorter. 2 stars
1/25/02 David A. Unless U. S. security is at risk, stay the !!**?*!@!$?!! out of other countries' wars. 4 stars
1/25/02 Julia A sensless waste of time and $. An excuse to enflame the hurt pride of US. 1 stars
1/24/02 Randy Gives the audience an idea of what hell is really like. 5 stars
1/23/02 nkf seeing this movie helps me appreciate what our guys overseas face 5 stars
1/23/02 lisa this was one of the best movies i've seen since saving private ryan 5 stars
1/23/02 Stephanie Realistic viewing of the many flaws in war. 4 stars
1/23/02 Crystal BEST MOVIE!!!!! A MUST SEE!! 5 stars
1/23/02 kishuta Powerful. War is Hell and this shows it like it is. 5 stars
1/22/02 travis i love it.it even made the large crowd walk out quiet at the end 5 stars
1/22/02 Anus Is it me or did he white people in the cinema cheer when the black guys got it in the end? 4 stars
1/22/02 The Man Brutally intense. Like the opening of Saving Private Ryan for 2.5 hours. Very good. 5 stars
1/21/02 Todd Beamer A must see!! How War movies should be made..all the time!! 5 stars
1/21/02 thejames Only see this if you have a stomach made of steel 4 stars
1/21/02 G-Man My thumb hurts. 5 stars
1/21/02 Glenn Louderback It was like reading the book. One of the best movies I have seen. 5 stars
1/21/02 Rachel Daly beautiful 5 stars
1/21/02 Victoria Laniel Crackin' 5 stars
1/20/02 Tim Ortiz Excrutiatingly real, almost a documentory, it was a great film 5 stars
1/20/02 Bad Kitty good depiction of a historical incident--great movie 4 stars
1/20/02 ajay not as cheesy as I though it was going to be. Oh yeah, Josh Hartnett is an ass. 3 stars
1/20/02 Chris K. This was produced by Jerry (PEARL HARBOR) Bruckheimer. That's not good! 3 stars
1/19/02 Obi Wan A Great War movie, kinda like Hamber Hill w/More action and bigger budget!!!! 5 stars
1/18/02 Todd Best war movie ever 5 stars
1/18/02 Anus Maybe you CAN have too much action. 3 stars
1/18/02 CaMiLlA Awesome movie, saw it twice and will probably see it again soon!! Good piece of work! 5 stars
1/15/02 Cammy This was an aweosme movie, and this is coming from a girl. In no way a propaganda film.:-) 5 stars
1/13/02 Gay Tooth Fairy I wouldnt of minded some drama. I know it really happened. Better than Private Ryan. 3 stars
1/13/02 JB This propaganda was beautifully made but rather boring. All reality aside. 3 stars
1/11/02 A Dissident This movie is a piece of Hollywood propaganda, given the timing of it's release 1 stars
1/04/02 Obi Wan Oh God! This is what Action Flicks should be like, what War movies should be about! Must C 5 stars
12/30/01 Jeremy_Glick Whoa!!! Gimme more of this!!! 5 stars
12/30/01 Todd Makes the battle scenes in Saving Private Ryan look like saturday morning cartoons. 5 stars
12/19/01 Harper Sloane Decent war film and Bruckerheimer leaves the flags and kleenex at home. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  18-Jan-2002 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  21-Feb-2002




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