Black Hawk DownThe events chronicled in Black Hawk Down have a much higher level of awareness in light of current events in Afghanistan. In 1993, the United States sent troops to Mogadishu, Somalia to bring food to the starving populace and to help bring down Mohamed Farrah Aidid, the ruling warlord. Even with American casualties, the public took little notice of the happenings in Somalia. Black Hawk Down is Ridley Scott's adaptation Mark Bowden's popular book, which recounts the downing of an American Black Hawk helicopter and the attempts to rescue the crew. It was a mission gone horribly wrong, leading to the complete withdrawal of US troops from Somalia. It's a highly violent yet gripping story, bringing together the tremendous action-oriented philosophies of Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer. What it lacks in character development and context is more than made up for in sheer visceral imagery. This is less a movie about the political unrest in Somalia than the valiant attempts at survival by various members of the Delta Force, the Army Rangers, and the Nightstalkers.
What stays after viewing the movie is the violence. Like Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down has an unbelievable amount of blood and violence. Scott's purpose is to show the horror that these men endured. In doing so, he wants to demonstrate their courage and valor, and coming through such horrible circumstances. If Scott can do one thing, it's make an action movie, and there is plenty of action here for him to play with. Debris falls everywhere around the confused soldiers, and blood spurts from detached limbs. In a way, Scott is tricking the audience. It is riveting watching his movie, but it is more of a morbid fascination of watching what he is willing to show on screen rather than watching any character development. To be fair, the drama does intensify as the movie progresses and as attempts to reach the downed helicopters become more frantic, and Scott is able to whip up the tension to an incredible level by switching between stories. He alternates among his small groups of soldiers trying to regroup, balancing fierce battle scenes with scenes of false serenity, just waiting to be shattered by gunfire. Watching Black Hawk Down is an experience, just not the one Scott probably hoped for.