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!