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Overall Rating
3.99

Awesome40.15%
Worth A Look: 33.71%
Average: 15.53%
Pretty Bad: 6.06%
Total Crap: 4.55%

15 reviews, 174 user ratings


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Black Hawk Down
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by Rob Gonsalves

"It's just a shoot-'em-up, folks. Don't make it bigger than it is."
3 stars

Perhaps because we are at war, the visceral combat movie 'Black Hawk Down' has gotten a bit of a free ride from many critics. Let this be a roadblock, if a small one.

The film takes a relatively recent true war story -- the disastrous 1993 military effort in Somalia -- and strips it down for action. It's as if a slasher film had half an hour of sketchy character set-up, then devoted two straight hours to nothing but kill, kill, kill. There's a certain purity to it, but past a certain point it's just Ridley Scott playing toy soldiers.

Scott, you may recall, was once a real director -- gifting the science-fiction genre with two of its finest ornaments, Alien and Blade Runner, and doing a solid job of work on Thelma & Louise that amounted to staying out of the way of Callie Khouri's excellent script. 2001's Hannibal was a comeback of sorts for him -- the movie was his to screw up, and he didn't -- but otherwise he has collapsed into the mannerisms of his brother Tony, burying simple stories in pompous gritty style, and Black Hawk Down is the grittiest yet. The movie isn't a militaristic joke like Scott's 1997 G.I. Jane, but it's on about the same dramatic level.

Screenwriter Ken Nolan's paring down of Mark Bowden's acclaimed book reduces the soldiers to ciphers carrying only the most functional of dialogue (and not always the most functional of weaponry). As one Black Hawk helicopter goes down, and then another, and the soldiers try to carry out frantic rescue missions while flattened by Somali fire, the movie's businesslike relentlessness gets oppressive and exhausting -- which, I suppose, is true to the actual experience, but it would've been nice to get to know a few of the men we're meant to care about.

Here, for instance, is Josh Hartnett, who still looks like a high-school senior but is unaccountably getting war-hero roles in movies like this and Pearl Harbor. Whenever the camera's on him, he purses his lips and looks grim. Let's move on to two Trainspotting alumni, Ewan McGregor and Ewen Bremner, who manage to sneak some spark into their roles (a desk jockey who's sort of eager to get into combat and a bug-eyed, deafened soldier, respectively). Then there's Tom Sizemore, who's going to be typecast as the Reliable Potato-Shaped Grunt for the rest of his life if he isn't careful; and quirky talents like Ron Eldard and Jeremy Piven, thrown away as chopper pilots; and poor Orlando Bloom, previously seen ventilating Orcs in The Fellowship of the Ring, now seen as a wet-nosed private whose mishap sets the whole rotten tragedy of errors in motion.

Hartnett, Bremner and Sizemore were also in Pearl Harbor, which like Black Hawk Down was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (both films also pretentiously lack a studio logo at the beginning, as if the movies were too important for that). Bruckheimer seems to be taking it upon himself to be the trash Thucydides of the new millennium, the chronicler of American catastrophe; he's even been warily suggesting that he might be interested in a film about the 9/11 attacks, and such a film, if nothing else, might make an ideal companion DVD along with Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down in the inevitable "Americans Under Fire" boxed set.

How is Black Hawk Down as a pure combat movie? Sometimes tight -- Scott gets a lot of mileage out of rocket launchers -- but eventually monotonous, with the time-honored badly wounded soldier choking out a request to tell his parents he fought hard, and his buddy's time-honored reassuring response, "You can tell 'em yourself." There are a few fake-outs, such as when a downed pilot makes sure to linger over a pocket photo of his wife and kids before he's overtaken by a crowd of enemy soldiers and then ... isn't killed.

Indeed, the characters' chances of survival increase or decrease according to their audience-recognition factor; the guys from 'Pearl Harbor' and the guy from 'Moulin Rouge' will most likely make it out okay, but the eighteen Americans who died on Somalian soil are mainly played by unknowns. The fallen soldiers are listed before the end credits, not that we know them any better now than we did before the movie started.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5688&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/02/07 12:46:39
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User Comments

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
2/19/14 oiubvaiezbh USA 3 stars
2/08/14 Yvtkafqa USA 4 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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