Black Hawk Down
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I've been seeing too many chick-flicks lately.  It was time to see a real movie so I went to opening night of Black Hawk Down.  This is definitely a boy movie. Not only is watching this movie a lot like playing a computer game like Quake but females just don't figure in this movie at all except, briefly, as a wife of one of the US soldiers or, repeatedly, as hapless Somali civilians being mowed down by the heroic members of the Rangers and Delta Force.  One weird thing is that unlike Gosford Park which employed nearly every living British actor to play British people, roughly one-third of the actors portraying red-blooded American boys in Black Hawk Down are, in fact, non-Americans including, Ewen McGregor (Scotland), Jason Isaacs (England), Eric Bana (Australia), Ioan Gruffudd (Wales), Kim Coates (Canada), and Zeljko Ivanek (Slovenia). Oh, and the director, Ridley Scott, is English.  Unfortunately,  the presence of so many non-Americans does not take the edge off this jingoistic story of American heroes killing nasty Somalis who are constantly referred to as ``Skinnies."  I'm sure that the film is being realistic in having the US soldiers refer to Somalis as Skinnies but there is no attempt to tell both sides of this story.  It is told 100% through American eyes.  Some small attempts to put the film in a geopolitical context fall flat.  At best Black Hawk Down is patronizing. At worst, it's racist.  If you can ignore all of that, then this is a well directed action movie which gives you a pretty good idea of what it was like for 123 US soldiers who were trapped for 15 hours in downtown Mogadishu surrounded by thousands of armed members of Mohamed Farrah Aidid's militia in 1993.  In the end, 18 US soldiers and more than 500 Somalis were dead.  That's why it seems like you are playing a game of Quake  because most of the movie consists of US soldiers mowing down the Somalis that are shooting at them.  The direction is very good and you are drawn into the action.  Black Hawk Down doesn't take much time getting going.  We meet our Rangers and Delta Force guys and within about 15 minutes, they are flying off to battle.  There are a few familiar faces, Ewen McGregor, Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore and Sam Shepard (as the commanding General).  If you saw Pearl Harbor , there are a lot of familiar faces.  Besides sharing the same Producer, Jerry Bruckheimer, Black Hawk Down and Pearl Harbor share six actors including Hartnett and Sizemore.  The actors in Black Hawk Down have trouble standing out from the crowd.  Part of the problem is that the actors get so dirty and bloody and it's so dark that you can't tell who is who.  But Ewen McGregor does well as a Ranger who has been stuck behind a desk but gets his chance in combat and makes a hell of a good cup of coffee even under fire.  The other standout is Tom Sizemore who projects just the right image as the Colonel commanding the Rangers who completely ignores bullets and bombs much like Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now.  Politics aside, this is a well made movie which does a good job recreating war at close quarters. It doesn't have that much impact since movies like Platoon and Saving Private Ryan have done before and better.  And in those movies, there were characters about whom you cared whether they lived or died.  I just can't get that worked up about Josh Hartnett. This movie was released earlier than planned to take advantage of the post-September 11th need for heroes.  From what I could see, the crowd was eating it up.  Hoo, Haw!