U.S. Release Date: December 28, 2001
Distributor: Sony (Revolution)
Director: Ridley Scott
Producer: Jerry Bruckheimer, Ridley Scott
Composer: Hans Zimmer
Cast: Ewen Bremner, Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana, William Fichtner, Sam Shepard, Orlando Bloom, Hugh Dancy, Ioan Gruffudd, Tom Hardy, Ty Burrell
Running Time: 2 hours and 24 minutes
MPAA Rating: R (intense, realistic, graphic war violence, and for language)

Pure War
by Sean Saulsbury

Black Hawk Down is a docu-drama depicting a mission-gone-wrong during the U.S.'s 'peace keeping' mission in Somalia in 1993. This is the story of a planned 30-minute mission that turned into 15-hour blood bath when American troops were sent unprepared into Mogadishu to capture the ruling warlords.

The film gets off to a rather sluggish start. Its attempt to establish the characters just does not work (Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Sam Shepard are among the cast). We get some rather trite comments from a few soldiers about whether they think the US's place in Somalia is appropriate or not, but very little that sets up the plot.

Once the battle starts (about 30 minutes into the film), it doesn't stop. It is a horrifying and intense 90 minutes depicting the very gruesome and tragic events. Fortunately, the characters become more interesting as we see how they act in the face of battle. Their choices and actions in the course of battle are what really build their characters, and by the end of the film you get a good sense of who these men are and why they choose to fight.

The film's theme is how the American soldiers persevered in this incident. It takes the view that the American soldiers fight in the name of brotherhood—they fight to stand by their fellow soldiers in arms (hence the film's tag line "Leave no man behind."), and reminds us that we must always go into battle prepared.

Director Ridley Scott (Hannibal, Gladiator) manages to avoid being "preachy" about the politics involved in this incident by telling its story from the soldiers' perspective. Rather, the film demonstrates what happened and what it would have been like to be there as it happened. This honest representation is bound to upset the history-revisionists and the "politically correct police" who wish to propagate their own political agenda.

Be warned that many scenes in the film are quite graphic—but be careful not to dismiss the gruesome imagery as a mere demonstration that "war is too horrible to fight." I couldn't help but think that these are the very soldiers out there defending our freedom today in the war against terrorism, and that our enemies today are—in principle and philosophically—the same type of thugs we were up against in Somalia. Keep in mind who are freedom's destroyers and who are its defenders and channel your outrage to its just recipients.

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