Since September 11, 2001 patriotism has become "in" again.  Go USA!  This is a good thing.  However, there is another date which had quite the opposite effect on American patriotism.  'Blackhawk Down' is one movie that will NOT be used for Army Ranger recruitment, and October 3, 1993 was not one of America's finest days.

Ridley Scott's 'Blackhawk Down' is based upon a book that was written by Mark Bowden, a newspaper journalist.  He used interviews from the actual men (some barely out of boyhood) who fought in the battle, a fight where things went really bad (remember the terrible news footage of the mutilated American being dragged through the city?)  Mogadishu, or "da Mog" as it is called thru the movie, is the setting for Blackhawk Down.

It's really hard to believe that this kind of FUBAR can happen in this present day and age.  There was a Somalian Civil War going on, and our guys were dropped smack in the middle of it to grab 2 of Warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid's aides.  We were in Somalia on a relief mission to feed starving men, women and children.  Why did this happen?

Well, the movie is two and a half hours long.  That's 15 minutes storyline setup, 15 minutes of preparation (or lack thereof as you'll find out) for the battle, and 120 minutes of explosions, RPG's, blood, and guts.  75 Rangers and 40 Delta Force troops went in ill-prepared and outgunned at least 50 to 1.  By the time it was over, 18 Americans were killed, 73 were injured, and two Blackhawk choppers were downed in a mission that was supposed to take less then half an hour.  Over a thousand Somalian's lost their lives fighting against the US troops who were dropped "in the middle of a hornet's nest".

I won't bore you with the details and the how's and why's... The movie does a good job of presenting the facts to you, unbiased.  No judgments are made.  It's as if you were propelled into war with these men - running and fighting right along side of them.  Ridley Scott and Jerry Bruckheimer team up to bring you a visually beautiful and yet horrifying piece of film.  There is no doubt that the quality of the filmmaking is A+.  Blackhawk Down's visuals and sounds are first rate.

It's the storyline that disappointed me at times.  I know it's a real life documentary style "fly on the wall" type film, but the actors and characters never seemed to become three dimensional to me.  All I saw were people blowing up left and right.  Yah, I know, realism was key and I agree that if Scott gave the story that extra Hollywood touch to make it more interesting, I would be reaming him for that too.  My thought is that this was a hard film to bring to the screen - he was pretty much damned if he did, and damned if he didn't on most of the issues that arose.

Things that make you go hmmmm...
1) Don't quite know why, but when the MH-6 Little Birds came by to fill a hundred "skinnys" (Somalian Militia) full of holes, I ended up cheering for a split second.  Then I caught myself and thought "What the hell am I cheering for? People are dying... This ain't Star Wars, it actually happened!"  That's the Hollywood effect though, where there's the good guys and the bad guys and the audience is jedi-mind tricked to make these certain emotional outbursts.  I mean, hooray for our side, but we're killing people who are defending their own city from attacking invaders.  I wouldn't like us too much either.

2) There is only one black US soldier depicted on the battlefield as far as I could see.  The rest of the soldiers were predominantly Caucasian.  Was it really that ethnically unbalanced?  Weird, huh?

3) You'll see Ian 'Obi Wan Kenobi' McGregor in this movie as a coffee making desk jockey named Grimes.  His character was based upon the real life Specialist John "Stebby" Stebbins, who came out of the Battle of Mogadishu a hero.  His Silver Star performance in that battle was tarnished later in 1997 when he was convicted of child rape and sentenced to 30 years at Leavenworth.  That's why the name was changed in the movie.

411 conclusion: 2 hours of explosions and gore was a bit much for me, and that is saying something.  I'm an action fan, an explosion fan, and a gore fan (not Al Gore - Blood Gore), but Blackhawk Down totally numbed me to the violence near the end of the show.  If you have a queasy stomach or are easily shell shocked, I would really think twice before seeing this movie.  And leave the kiddies home.  This one is strictly for adults only.  All in all, this was a strange movie.  Walking out of the theater, I didn't know how to feel about it.  I guess the movie did accomplish it's ultimate goal... to disturb the viewer and to make him/her think.  Ridley Scott is a great movie maker, and the cinematography is some of the best I've seen.  As for the Battle of the Mog - I'm an optimist. I view the fight as an actually testament to the American soldier.  Despite poor military decisions, equipment shortages, and the multitude of other mistakes made that day, it's mind boggling that 115 soldiers could fight a whole city of thousands of angry armed people and come out with only 18 killed.

Who's in this movie?
Blackhawk Down's cast includes some very familiar faces...  Tom Sizemore, Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Eric Bana, Sam Shepard, William Fichtner.  You'll see familiar faces left and right, but none really stand out or develop as characters.

Check out the website!

Check out the trailer!