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Black Hawk Down

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Black Hawk Down

Starring: Josh Harnett, Ewan McGregor
Director: Ridley Scott
Rated: R
RunTime: 143 Minutes
Release Date: January 2002
Genres: Action, War, Drama

Review by Susan Granger
3½ stars out of 4

The story of combat is timeless - but the release of Ridley Scott's ultra-realistic war picture, based on Mark Bowden's authentic account of 1993's Battle of Mogadishu, is perfectly timed for its American release when our troops are fighting in Afghanistan. Sam Shepard plays Major General Garrison who commands U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force commandos, part of a United Nations mission to help relieve famine in Somalia by securing supply routes against theft by troops of Somali warlord, Gen. Muhammad Farah Aidid. But in the midst of what is supposed to be a quick afternoon raid, two Black Hawk helicopters are shot down and a rescue effort launched. Unfortunately Ken Nolan's evasive script gives us too little about each soldier's character to develop much of an emotional attachment to the combatants - despite the fact that 18 Americans died and more than 70 were injured. With a cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore and William Fichtner, only Josh Hartnett as an idealistic sergeant makes a memorable impact. Instead, the film-makers focus almost entirely on the explosive ferocity of the conflict itself. What emerges is a surreal cacophony of whirring helicopter blades, snipers on rooftops, rolling humvees and ground soldiers darting in and out of concrete urban buildings, exchanging gunfire with the "skinnies" - while Maj. Gen. Garrison grimly observes the futile debacle on a video monitor, trying to figure out what to do next. Much of the credit for the film's visceral effectiveness rests with cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, editor Pietro Scalia and composer Hans Zimmer. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Black Hawk Down" is an intense, visually arresting 8. It's a vivid, gruesome depiction of a savage, bloody carnage.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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