Black Hawk Down (2001)

black hawk downIMDb

I remember when this came out. All my girl friends wanted to see it because, “Josh Hartnett is sooooo hot!” I didn’t really see why that was a legitimate reason to see this movie. Surely the majority of this would be played out in a combat zone, where he would be fully clothed and possibly injured? And wouldn’t exploding bombs and civilian deaths be kind of a buzzkill to any potential perving? Also, is Josh Harnett hot? (I’m still not convinced that he ever was.) This collective Hartnett obsession resulted in me developing a huge aversion to him. I’ve avoided watching just about every movie he’s ever made, so this viewing of Black Hawk Down is my first.

I was surprised to discover that there are people other than Josh Hartnett in this movie. He’s definitely the lead, but the rest of the cast is a veritable who’s who of film and television. There are established actors (Tom Sizemore, William Fitchtner), men who were just on the verge of becoming superstars (Ewan McGregor, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana), and guys who were nobodies then, but are stars now (Tom Hardy, Ty Burrell, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Really, who wasn’t in this film?

While it was fun to see so many familiar faces, the American accents drove me crazy. A lot of these actors are European or Australian, and their attempts at sounding American are not quite there. Most try to sound Southern/Midwestern, which may have been accurate to their real life counterparts, but I suspect the choice has more to due with the ease of adopting this accent.

The story itself is interesting, though I wish it had focused a bit more on the conditions in Somalia that lead to these events unfolding (I’m particularly interested after realizing this is a pseudo-prequal to Captain Phillips). The majority of the movie is about the American soldiers attempting to capture a dangerous warlord when their mission goes awry, which fair enough, the title makes that pretty clear. Still, a little more exposition about the situation would be nice. Instead we spend a lot of time pre-mission getting to know the soldiers who will be involved. However, there are too many of them to keep track of, and you don’t really get to know anyone well enough to care about their plight. Focusing on half as many of the men would have been better, and created a bigger emotional impact.

Rating: D

I remember liking this film a lot more than I did with this viewing. It is exactly the kind of production values you’d expect from a film directed by Ridley Scott and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. There’s just too much going on here to really get invested in the characters.

The film, a true story, revolves around a large group of soldiers who are trying to capture a dangerous warlord in Somalia. Led by Josh Hartnett, this team of elite soldiers are meant to fly into Mogadishu and capture some higher ups of the local militia. Things go awry when one of their black hawk helicopters go down.

This film is ultra realistic, there is plenty of blood and gore. It’s exactly as you’d expect it to have been in real life. There are just too many people in this film to keep track of. The cast is huge, and nearly every actor playing a minor character in the film has gone on to bigger and better things. Guys like Tom Hardy, Ioan Gruffoad and even Jamie Lannister himself, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau show up here in what must be their first major film for all of them. Because I know them now, I found myself trying to keep track of their plight along with all of the other characters. The film is bold and tries to give each character their moment, but there’s just too many. By trying to follow everyone, the film has made it harder for the audience to relate to anyone. If the film had followed a small number of people and stayed with them, I feel like the audience would be better involved with these guys. As it is, I found it very hard to keep track of who was who and what the body count was.

I also had an issue with the accents. I think out of the main cast, only Josh Hartnett is actually American. Eric Bana, Ewan MacGregor, Orlando Bloom, and Ewan Bremner make up some of the other American soldiers. All of them are not from America. They struggle to make their USA accents believable, especially Eric Bana in what was his first role in a major film outside of Australia. His Southern accent is sometimes laughable. He’s improved a lot over time when he does a Yankee accent, but in this movie, he is struggling.

This film is average. There is some great action here, the scene when the chopper goes down is pretty extraordinary. There are just too many characters to keep track of though. I found myself not really caring about any of them.

Rating: D

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