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Movie Review

Black Hawk Down

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Directed by Ridley Scott, starring Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana and Sam Shepard.

Acclaimed director Ridley Scott collaborates with action producer Jerry Bruckheimer to bring the true story of the battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, to the screen. Based on the book by Mark Bowden, 'Black Hawk Down' charts the story of an elite group of American soldiers sent on an exclusive mission to capture two top lieutenants of the warlord, Mohamed Farreh Aided, as part of an overall aim to suppress the civil war in Somalia.

The carefully planned mission, however, soon turns nasty, when two seemingly invincible Black Hawk helicopters get shot down in the middle of the combat zone. The result is an 18-hour bloody struggle to rescue the crash survivors. Soldiers get separated, combat strategy is abandoned, and the city is transformed into a harrowing and deadly war zone in which the Rangers go to extreme lengths to retrieve their comrades.

The story is predominantly told through the idealistic eyes of Staff Sgt Matt Eversmann, played by 'Pearl Harbour' heartthrob Josh Hartnett. He unexpectedly takes command of a combat troop for the first time and finds himself put to the test in unforeseen ways.

Ewan McGregor plays Grimes, a deskbound soldier who finally gets his shot at combat. The character offers some light relief from an otherwise intense and stomach-wrenchingly physical cinematic experience. But, brilliant as he is, McGregor seems a little miscast. He doesn't gel with the rest of the cast in this film about American combat told from a predominantly American viewpoint.

Tom Sizemore is the caring and pragmatic leader, Ranger Lt Col Danny McKnight, while Sam Shepard delivers a fine performance as commander of the Task Force Rangers.

The strict "leave no soldier behind" policy adopted by the Rangers called for loyalty and courage, but their "heroic" actions also result in a dramatically greater number of causalities – both soldiers and Somalians. This issue is overlooked however, as the film celebrates personal bravery rather than examining the wider implications of such action.

Ridley Scott successfully evokes the horror of war with all its intensity, insanity and horrific bloodshed. Brilliantly shot, with excellent production design and magnificent performances from a host of fine actors, this fast-paced film might not be everyone's cup of tea but it is well worth seeing.

Caroline Earley

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