Movie Review: Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down, directed by Ridley Scott, is a historically accurate account of the events that take place in Somalia on October 3, 1993. Essentially the story is about a humanitarian mission that was meant to last only an hour. Two Black Hawk Helicopters dropped two teams of U.S. soldiers deep in the capital of Somalia in order to capture two lieutenants of the Somalian Army. However, both Black Hawk helicopters were attacked, and the movie turns into a rendition of the rescue missions that took place in Somalia as the surviving U.S. soldier’s worked to rescue the survivors captured after the attacks.

This film was decent in that it has big name actors working to tell an intriguing and heroic war story that took place in the lifetime of its target audience. It works as a history lesson that provides the audience with a sufficient rendition to the context and events surrounding this incident. The use of popular actors to work together to convey a moving, and real war story was genius on the part of Scott. His talent in both directing and casting is also part of his talent as an artist.

The film starts out with the background on the scenario. It goes into detail as to why we were moving into Somalia, as well as accurately covering the events post invasion. The movie uses battle sequences and its storyline to convey the tactics a sense of camaraderie to match that of the Somali incidents. The film uses the actual names of the black hawk gunships and their respective teams, also qualifying the history lesson.

It is through the screen of this film that an audience sees the true intensity and fear of reconnaissance, rescue and battle missions of the military. This movie shows how the United States military uses information that it recruits to execute special operations and missions to help end battle and confrontation, with every aspect of the preservation of life kept in mind.

This movie shows the U.S. government deciding that it would be more effective to capture two key players on the Somali side of the confrontation and use them as leverage to help end the situation. When the mission does not go according to plan, the soldiers work to preserve each other, and still carry out their mission. They keep their heads low, and make the preservation of American life their primary means.

The movie is also accurate in that it shows numbers accurately in terms of casualty. In the movie we see 140 U.S. soldiers moving into Somalia, and we see how the story (and mission) turned from an intended one hour operation, to a blazing sixteen hour firefight, resulting in a large quantity of Somali deaths and the loss of several American lives.

The movie is also accurate in that it takes its name from the high point of the battle. The invasion was pretty easy at first until some Somali soldiers used an RPG rifle to shoot down a Black Hawk gun chopper, thusly changing the status quo against the Americans. Tensions, emotions, and danger escalated and caused the missions primary objective to shift from being capture to survive. This in actuality was how it happened. Once Americans were attacked, they needed to regroup and evacuate the area immediately. Exactly like in the movie.

Black Hawk Down, historically accurate, is what any film major would categorize as a docudrama. The use of tight camera angles, epic battle scenes, and emphasis on only part of the mission has great entertainment value and educational purpose, but in the end the film is twenty minutes too long. Although the storyline is easily lost in the special effects and persona of the actors involved, it works well to portray a dramatic and heroic event in U.S. history.