Movie Review: Black Hawk Down


Of all the military tragedies in American history, the Somalian incident in October of 1993 is definitely among the worst. In a miscalculated snatch and trap mission, a standard operation turns into an hours upon hours long battle with the soldiers in the city. A black Hawk helicopter is shot down by an RPG. Then another. It is the directive of the commanding officer- No man get’s left behind. And so begins a bloody and death ridden operation to save the survivors and recover the dead American soldiers in the crash.

Things I Liked

The shining gold medal of this film is the way the soldiers, once they are in a mess, do sacrifice themselves for each other without even thinking about it. We see men put themselves in harms way even to save a solider’s dead body from being destroyed. They believe in “No man gets left behind” and carry it out to the fullest.

The commanding officers takes full responsibility for his actions in the failure of the mission.

Things I Didn’t Like

While in war movies I understand there is going to be violence, how that violence is portrayed, shown, and resolved greatly affects the quality of the movie in terms of story, character, and morality. This movie shows violence constantly and consistently in the most gruesome of ways. What is worst however, is the complete lack of care shown in the deaths of the soldiers. Because there is no character development or clear mission, there is no feeling of loss when a solider is killed. It is shown as a “Here is what happened” for two hours, with no apparent thought that the viewers might like to get to know these people and begin to care about them before you kill them off.

That being said, the tactless and distasteful violence is everywhere here. If you can think it, it probably was shown in this movie. Men are blown to bits with RPGs, shot everywhere, limbs are shown to be blown off, blood flows profusely, etc. It is shown in a most inconsiderate fashion, which is unfortunate considering the immense amounts of real loss it represented twenty years ago.

On solider is shot and mobbed, then his corpse is carried around by the Somalian mob, we know his body is dragged through the street, but in a rare instance of good taste being shown, we don’t see that.

The F word is used at least two dozen times, as well as D—, B—–, and Hell used out of context. Gods name is used in vain profusely, which bothered me more than the F bomb to be honest. But it is a war movie, so that makes it OK, right? /sarcasm/

Closing Thoughts

“When I go home people’ll ask me, “Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? What, you some kinda war junkie?” You know what I’ll say? I won’t say a —- word. Why? They won’t understand. They won’t understand why we do it. They won’t understand that it’s about the men next to you, and that’s it. That’s all it is.”

The story of this war tale isn’t a happy one. It doesn’t end well here, because it doesn’t in real life. Lives were lost due to mistakes and unforeseen circumstances which we can read in any history book. Black Hawk Down succeedes in the history department, and showing the bond between soldiers. Where it falls short though, is the human aspect of the story.

I’d venture to say anyone can write a war movie full of people dying for each other to communicate sacrifice. That isn’t hard to do. This film contains that among the Ranger brothers, and we definitely see an unmatched love for each other which is mind boggling. But that’s about it. There is no character development, no real enemy, not even a cause- save for getting out of a mess they were not even sure they were supposed to get into in the first place.

The result of all this death and disaster is from a decision we hear virtually nothing about. And because of that, this movie lacks the necessary insight and conviction to make it memorable or even something to appreciate. There has to be a reason for the sacrifice, and this movie avoids that question and answer constantly.

This film was classified as a drama, and honestly it is nothing of the sort. It is a documentary style, two hour shoot-em-up film full of sensationalized gore, dozens of F- bombs, with no real resolved justified purpose of why they are doing what they are doing. The characters are all but faces to be killed off, as we get to know none of them. There is no tact, artistry, or even an attempt at some emotional connection.

Bottom line is, Black Hawk Down provides a gore fest like no other, sure to satisfy the people who drink up these blood ridden films. If you want something other than a 2-hour footage showing men getting shot by men and dying saving another (not to disparage this in any way to be sure!), I’d recommend Saving Private Ryan, Act of Valor, or We Were Soldiers.  Black Hawk Down, is a successful attempt at recreating a historical event, with no compelling or even interesting story to show for it.

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