Black Hawk Down Review

Casualties, Plato and American warfare all strike at the heart in Black Hawk Down, a Ridley Scott feature that was catapulted to acclaim by the post-9/11 feeling within America. That glean of patriotism within Black Hawk Down is not because of the tragedy that struck, but the acclaim that followed does tie itself to the feeling that swept America. That sense of love for the country is surely felt for those that need it to survive on a day-to-day basis when they see American heroes trapped in parts unknown. Fair play, Scott, it is an interesting angle to take and bolstered by the sudden strike of real-world relevancy and the horrible bloodbaths that open his feature.

With great performers Ewan McGregor and Jason Isaacs leaping over from across the pond and fixing an American accent to their performances, Scott has himself a strong cast. He falls immediately to the machoism perceived in the military lifestyle. It was a popular style to hold in the turn of the 21st century, but not a very engaging one. “I’m here to kick some ass,” some dumb teenager mutters to McGregor’s John Grimes. It is hard to take the dialogue with much severity until these characters are dropped deep into the warzone and their real emotions come to the forefront. Seeing the horrors of warfare and the reaction to it is no pretty sight, but there is beauty in Scott’s craft, however dense the script may be and however frequently it may come across as ill-defined and dependant on blood, sweat and tears.

Inevitable that may be, Scott makes it look good. The fear of soldiers and the military jargon around it is well-defined and explained fairly nicely. Those coarse and rough tragedies are defined well by Scott and his ensemble but never get to grips with the uncomfortable truth that underscores it all. Horror and tragedy may be the core of Black Hawk Down but it is never fully controlled or retained by Scott. It is horrifying and claustrophobic and there is no doubt the scope of Scott’s direction for the action scenes is spectacular, but it lacks some uniqueness. Aviator-wearing armchair generals and tightly-knit boys club groups offer little variation from the status quo Scott appears to be drifting away from. Perhaps it is a subconscious change rather than an active fight against the tide.

A war ensemble feature with some excellent cinematography and a bulky cast working amicably with one another, Black Hawk Down has the intensity of an action feature but the coldness of the real world. The horrors of war are captured perfectly well but not utilised with much more than a backwards glance at the danger of it all and the people that put these brave souls there. It shows the torn communities and the terrible acts of war but never displays anything beyond the usual devices. These people had families, they were torn apart thanks to senseless acts and thoughts from those that knew better. Black Hawk Down is a challenging watch but not something that uncovers any shocking revelations about the state of warfare.

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