on January 2, 2002
I have to say that they nailed this movie pretty good.
Basically all it does is tell the story of what happened in Mogadishu on October 3, 1993. They didn't focus on character detail that much which to me is a good thing. There are just too many people involved to go into detail with them all. Going into too much detail on certain characters and not others would take away what some did and would lessen their sacrifice. So, they stuck to just the story. Good move.
They compressed the story some, changed a few names, and merged some characters into one character This was done to get the story down to a movie time frame and to protect certain characters identities as they are still serving.
No movie based on a book is as detailed as the book. Don't expect it to be. You should read the book as well.
Some critics have said that it is way too violent of a film. Did they know they were going to see a movie about combat? Hello!!?!! It's about time that film makers have started making movies to show the American public what really happens in combat. Combat is not one guy running around killing people by the hundreds with a head band on. They made it a real as you could get it on the screen. Saving Private Ryan started it off and now Black Hawk Down. To Jerry Bruckheimer and Ridley Scott, Bravo! Well Done!
It's very accurate as far as weapons, equipment, uniforms, etc. They used the exact helicopters that were used in the original mission in 1993 with the 160th SOAR.
The whole movie I was searching for inaccuracies. Want to know what I came up with? They had their names written in marker on their Kevlar helmets (this was done so the audience could quickly tell who's who) we wrote our names on the helmet band. The chin straps on the Kevlar helmets were not taped up (As soon as I got to Ranger Battalion we had to taped up and tie down certain pieces of equipment and this was one of them), they wore dog tag silencers (in Ranger Battalion I was told to get them off and tape em up with 100 MPH tape as soon as I got there), and sometimes they said each others names on the radios instead of call signs (once again this was done for the audience). So as you can see I was really reaching there.
Certain shots were just incredible for me. For example, there was a point of view shot from the side of a MH-6 Little Bird (we used to ride out on the sides of those things all the time). The camera was positioned as to be a person sitting on the left side of the chopper looking to the front. In front of the chopper is another Little Bird fully loaded with guys. The sequence is them going in for a landing on the street. Just watching it reminded me of all those times I rode on those [...things].
Maybe someday people will start to understanding what people in combat arms go through.
A Co, 2nd Ranger Battalion
U.S. Army (1991-1995)
This is a phenominal film. I'm sad to say that I was fairly oblivious to the conflict in Somalia... I was working 3rd shift and sleeping during the day in 1993 when this incedent took place. This film could not have been more timely in its release... when long dormant patriotism has been brought to the forefront of every American's thoughts.
Now that we've been attacked on our own soil, conflicts overseas seem that much more real to us.
In 1993, the Islamic leader and warlord of Somalia, Muhammad Farrah Aidid, led with fear and tyranny. His henchmen were equipped with what appeared to be limitless weapons -- large machine guns, shoulder rockets, pistols, and many automatic and semi-automatic weapons. They enlist even the youngest and most innocent of their populace to help them spy and keep in constant contact via cell phone. Aidid stopped international aid from reaching his own people, killing 300,000 by starvation and the onslaught of civil war.
Washington sent in their military forces to remove Aidid from power and to prevent the Somali people from having to endure more suffering under Aidid's iron grasp. Sadly, Washington didn't want to "look too dramatic" and denied military requests for C130 gun ships and other heavy artillery that certainly would have made a big difference on the outcome of this event.
Army Rangers, pilots, medics, the famous Delta Force, the pride of America was there, fighting for the freedom of a people they did not know.
This film is the realistic portrayal of the events that led to the deaths of 19 U.S. servicemen... but it's not just a shoot 'em up movie. You feel like you're there, with them. What should have been a mission that was to last only 30 minutes, lasted longer than anyone imagined when a single Somali soldier downs a Black Hawk rotor with a shoulder-launched rocket... and the Ranger motto, "no one gets left behind," is tested to the limits.
There are some humorous moments to break the tension, but the majority of the film is a stressful experience where you are literally at the edge of your seat to see what happens next.
The 19 servicemen that are killed range the gamut from 18 year old enlistees to First Sergeants with years of service... and none of them dies in a pretty way. If you are made queasy by blood, beware... this is a bloody film... and there are a number of scenes that will make you gasp in horror. Some of these guys were hit by rockets... burned and blown apart... it's just awful, but sadly... it's reality. We usually just hear some sterile figures on CNN how a particular number of soldiers were shot, stepped on land mines, etc... but we don't see what really happened and that's when we become very detached from reality and end up sympathizing with the people (often our enemies) we see in easier-to-stomach scenes of children living in squalor as a result of conflict, maligning Americans against their own military. Please note the rating of this film and consider it thoughtfully before considering bringing a child. The gore is horrific and the scenes are really too intense for young ones.
For those who like shoot-em-ups and explosions, you won't be disappointed. The special effects are fantastic... there are a few scenes in the movie in which you feel like ducking as it appears a missile is ready to whiz right over your shoulder. The sound is fantastic... you can hear and feel the bullets whizzing by and you can hear the klinking of shells falling at your feet. The foley artists on this film are to be commended.
Hans Zimmer delivers a wonderful and complimentary score to the movie... along with the sounds of African children singing and some rock-n-roll to boot... it's a nice soundtrack.
Ridley Scott reminds us once again his flair for delivering crisp, vivid scenes that are riveting, exciting and moving all at the same time.
Watching this film is an emotional and intense experience that will leave you tired when it's over... but images from the screen will replay in your head several times. These soldiers trained hard to become Rangers and to be part of the Delta Force... these are young men that know what dangers await them and they go in with their eyes wide open... and they are prepared to defend their buddies with their lives. In many ways, this film is a monument to their strength, their courage and their loyalty. Those 19 men should not be forgotten. This film is also a testament to the necessity of properly arming and equipping our soldiers so that they have the best protection needed when engaged in conflict and worrying less about appearances and more about protecting American lives, both military and civilian.
I highly recommend this film.
on May 5, 2002
Black Hawk Down starts out with a brief introduction into the U.S. involvement in Somalia, and then takes us on a journey through hell!
This movie tells the true story of Task Force Ranger, who were sent to Somalia to put an end to the clan warfare and capture the most powerful warlord in the impoverished African nation. What was supposed to be a routine mission, turned into a fierce 18 hour battle that claimed the lives of 18 American servicemen and resulted in another 73 being wounded.
This movie does not "Hollywood" the story at all because it simply did not need to. The story itself was shocking, tragic, and in many senses triumphant. It was an event that very few people in this country knew about at the time. Mark Bowden's book was exceptionally written and the movie follows it extremely well.
Be aware...This movie is not for the faint of heart! It depicts the battle in graphic detail and contains scenes of some very gruesome injuries sustained by the men involved. There is one scene where a medic is fighting to save the life of a wounded soldier who has a severed artery in his leg. This is one of the most graphic sequences you will see in a film, so be prepared.
Ridley Scott turned in another brilliant job of directing. He successfully puts the audience into the fight and allows us to feel the hopelessness and despair that was felt by these brave men. He tells the story of this battle with exceptional detail and realism. You will be left with a mix of emotions after watching this film, but you will also feel a deep sense of thanks and gratitude for the men and women who are serving our country today.
Black Hawk Down is one of the best films in recent years and should not be missed!
on June 24, 2002
If you read the reviews, from the critics and from the customers, you'll soon see the two sides developing. Actually more like four... There are those that thought the movie was an excellent look into the modern chaos of urban warfare, and that the DVD was a worthy purchase. There are those who felt similarly about the movie, but hated the DVD. Then there are those that thought the movie was hollywood or Army propaganda and the presentation was decent, and finally, those that hated both the movie itself and the DVD.
I belong between the first and second groups.
My advice is to pick up the book, of the same name, that was published about three years ago. The author was inspired by comments made by the father of one of the fallen rangers. With an excellent prospective, the book is a must read. If you read and find the book interesting, then you rent the movie. You watch the altered cleaner version. A film can not recreate the true sansation of combat, unless of course someone stood next to the projector in the theater and fired an AK-47 over the audience. The situation leading up to and following the events of October 3 and 4 were complicated, and I expect most people would have been far more displeased if they had been included. Simply, you should not listen to either side, you should think about it for yourself, because this is a serious and necessary topic of discussion. An earlier reviewer said this movie was just about following orders, they're right, that's exactly what it was. A soldier does not involve himself in politics, he just goes out and gets shot at for a living. That's what this film is about. Not the politicians that make mistakes; but the soldiers that must live with them, or perhaps die.
on January 23, 2002
I was there, and the movie shows exactly what the fighting was like. If you want to know what it's like to risk your life for all of those who stay at home, watch cable TV, and eat at Denny's - watch this movie! I just wish the movie would have given some more credit to the Malaysians who, together with the 10th Mountain Division, deserve credit for getting us out. They took casualties too, and the convoy did not exist exclusively of armored personnel carriers, neither did it just appear out of nowhere in the morning, they had driven through this city, and taken fire all night long. Also, no one had to sprint after the convoy, and no one cheered for us.
All in all a good movie though, it brought back memories I had long tried to forget.
It happened in 1993, just a few short years ago. The United States sent troops to Somalia on a humanitarian mission because the people were starving. But something went wrong. There was bloodshed. American troops were killed. What happened? What went wrong? It was all very confusing.
This film, based on the book by journalist Mark Bowden is an account of the operation in which American soldiers were sent to the heart of the city of Mogadishu to capture two top officials of the ruling renegade warlord who were preventing fair food distribution. It was supposed to take a mere half hour. Instead it turned into a nightmare as one of their special helicopters, referred to as a "Black Hawk" was shot down.
Within minutes the audience is plunged into that nightmare and the tension keeps up for almost the entire film. Director Ridley Scott does a masterful job; I felt I was right there with the men, dodging bullets and caring for the wounded as a hostile mob of fully armed Somalians kept attacking. There were no name stars among the actors and, with one exception, they were all white young men in uniforms, and so it was easy to get them confused, especially since there was little, if any, back story. It was the battle itself that was the star of this film. The violence was strong and unrelenting, and there was no time for either the men or the audience to catch a breath before the next horrible thing happened. Special effects were awesome as the moment-by-moment action just kept going on and on.
There might have been no one central character to identify with, but that was not this film's intent. It forced me instead, to identify with it all. And it certainly made me think about how a battle like this can take place in a distant part of the world without more than a few news blips here at home about what was really going on.
One of the strengths of the film is that it doesn't preach. Both patriots and anti-war activists and the many people whose sentiments lie between these two positions can find something to relate to. It just tells the story about what happened that day. And that story is strong enough to stand by itself with no apologies.
on March 28, 2002
Back in October of 1993, the attitude of the American public towards the U.S. armed forces was starting to wane. The euphoria felt during the Gulf War was giving way to feelings that the United States had no business getting involved in the affairs of Third World countries and their ancient, tribal disputes. The morale of our service men and women was deteriorating with massive Clinton Administration downsizing of our forces and the closing of numerous military facilities at home and abroad.
By 1992 a famine was taking the lives of thousands of people in the East African country of Somalia (and I use the term "country" loosely). Previous food shipments from humanitarian organizations had been hijacked by warring clans in order to maintain control over the population. The United Nations, led by United States Marines, entered Somalia to help stop the starvation and to bring enough order to the relief efforts so that food distribution was no longer interrupted by the Somali warlords. One warlord in particular, Mohammad Farrah Aidid, was the strongest and his militias posed a constant threat to the fragile order the U.N. brought.
After several months of maintaining relative order, the United States started to make plans for long term stability in Somalia and believed that the removal of the warlords was key to doing so. The Marines pulled out and were relieved by Task Force Ranger, made up of units from the 75th Ranger Regiment, and elements of other U.S. Special Forces, including Delta Force.
"Black Hawk Down" is based on a series of articles written by Mark Bowden, later brought together into a book of the same same name. It details an operation by Task Force Ranger to capture top lieutenants of Aidid's organization in a bold daylight assault into the middle of the Somali warlord's turf, that was designed to take no more than an hour. When the militia and armed civilians rose up to oppose the action, and two MH-60 "Blackhawk" helicopters were shot down, the soldiers on the ground had to fall back on their training and faith in one another to survive through the next several hours into the night in the middle of a hostile city. When it was over, over a dozen U.S.soldiers were killed, 75 were wounded and over 500 Somalis were killed.
"Black Hawk Down" chronicles the events of that day and evening. Through powerful cinematography and judicious use of special effects, director Ridley Scott manages to convey both the desperation and professionalism the Rangers and Delta Force operators displayed in the face of overwhelming odds, and the soldierly affection they had for one another as they lived up to the Ranger creed, "Leave No One Behind."
One last comment: I have noticed other reviewers describe the assault to capture Aidid's lieutenants as a failure. This cannot be further from the truth. The primary objective was to round these people up, load them up in the ground convoy and leave the scene. This happened. The Delta Force operators were successful in assaulting the building, the Rangers provided cover and security on the building as the operators did so, and the Aidid's men were loaded into trucks and driven away. It was immediately after this occurred that the plan went awry. Talk to any of the Rangers that were there that day and they will tell you to the man that they believed they accomplished their mission.
on February 19, 2002
Most reviews focus on the political and humanitarian background of the movie. This background is helpful, but the movie stands well on its own, even if you don't know anything about the actual events it is strictly based on.
The movie is of course based on the book of the same name, by Mark Bowden. A lot of credit should be given to Bowden; it was his tireless research that brought together a lot of scattered documents and first-hand recollections into one coherent historical piece. Before he wrote the book, there existed no single, overarching look at the battle.
I was impressed with the technical side of the movie. Battle scenes were depicted very realistically, and I couldn't find any niggling technical inaccuracies, like incorrect weapons or tactics. Most civilian viewers wouldn't notice anyway, but hats off to Scott for going the extra mile and getting good military advisors.
I was even more impressed that the movie followed the book so closely, and therefore what really happened. I don't think I've ever watched a movie that was almost an exact reproduction of the book its based on. Even so, there are a couple of historical glitches, and no real reason why they are there. When the first Blackhawk crashed (in real life)it did so in a very narrow road, knocking down a stone wall. In the movie it is in a traffic circle. In real life, the Minibird pilots showed exceptional skill landing in the narrow road to drop off medics. It's kind of an insult in the movie, when they simply landed in the great wide open. Beyond a few of these glitches, it tracks very closely. Watching the movie is like seeing the book fleshed out in full color. It gives you a taste of what grueling conditions the raiders faced.
One last thing...all U.S. participants save 2 or 3 medics were in fact Army soldiers, not "from different branches of the armed forces." Nor was this based on a "novel". It recounts, as accurately as a movie can, a real life nasty firefight and the superior efforts of U.S. Rangers, Special Forces, and Army Aviation pilots (and a few brave PJs) against what turned out to be crushing odds. So long as America produces selfless, dedicated, and highly trained soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines we have little to fear.
on June 3, 2003
The movie is an excellent account of the vicious battle in Mogadishu. What makes this edition a "must-have" are the inclusions of "The History Channel Presents: The True Story of Black Hawk Down" and "PBS Presents: Frontline: Ambush in Mogadishu." The movie and the two documentaries paint a well-rounded picture of the battle and political consequences that followed, culminating in President Clinton's decision to withdraw from Somalia instead of confronting Adid, the man responsible for the ambush.
If you liked the movie, want to know more about the events but missed the documentaries, this 3-disc release is for you.
on April 4, 2002
Ridley Scott's true tale of the most costly U.S. firefight since Vietnam creates with graphic detail the events leading up to and including the events of October 3rd and 4th, 1993, when 130 U.S. Rangers and Delta Operators took part in a mission to capture key Somali warlords.
What makes this film work better than Private Ryan is that it does not waste time with cliched characters who sit around and discuss the meaning of war and its motives and consequences. Black Hawk skips right to the story of telling us who these guys are and what they do. Keeping in mind that a majority of the men in the raid were in their early 20s, and one of them was 18 years old. These were just a bunch of rock and rollers who beleived they were part of an army that was undefeated and invincible. Also, Private Ryan's combat scenes revolve around only a few incidents in the film, the first and last 25 minutes of the movie. Although very realistic and graphic, they at times don't capture Balck Hawk's feeling of chaos and confusion, even with advanced technology available. Its amazing that an advanced country with helicopters, computers, satellites can be rendered useless in a city like Mogadishu. Black Hawk actions scenes area ctually one big one, lasting at least 90 minutes and being filmed in a more frenetic pace and style, not like Private Ryan's larger and more grnad setting wheere it is hard to concentrate on the action.
It soon becomes a mission of survival when two Black Hawk choppers are shot down and if becomes a rescue mission, but soon the RAngers and Delta find themselves cut off, and a convoy sent to find aid them and reach the crash sites gets shot up in some of the film's most realistic and graphic scenes.
If you have read the book by Mark Bowden you will find many of the details, even minor ones, have been included in the film, giving it a more personal and emotional touch.
Don't miss out on what was 2001 best film. And don't miss out on some of the most realistic and graphic combat scenes ever filmed.