14 December 2005
Black Hawk Down. Another movie that on the surface shouldn't be better than Seven Samurai, but is.
First off, let me say this is the single best war movie I've ever seen. And I love war movies. I was raised on them. I was born on the 36th anniversary of d-day and I have been fascinated by World War II ever since I could read. My list of favorite war movies is extensive and dominated by Military Strategy over drama or serendipity. However, none of these classic films compares to Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down.
First off, this movies has an amazing ensemble cast -- the main ingredient of any film I love. No one actor gets more screen time than anyone else, in my opinion and the rich characters are excellently portrayed. Even the big names like Tom Sizemore, have trouble keeping up with Josh Hartnett and Eric Bana, who at the time were just up and coming. Even Ewan MacGregor plays a fantastically subtle character with all the grace that makes him the only thing worth watching in Star Wars.
Sam Shepherd kicks some major ass too.
Secondly, before the shooting starts, there's about 30 to 40 minutes of character development, dialog, exposition, and plot that set up what's to come. And what's to come is ...
... an amazingly true story. Even character on the screen is a real soldier. Every event, based-on what actually happened or is what actually happened. And despite the criticisms that Black Hawk Down is blatant propoganda, this movie primiered 10 years after the real events occured, long after any feelings of knee-jerk reactionism for "revenge" could be of any import.
And the American Military involvement in the making of this film helped create the greatest level of realism I've ever seen in a war movie. So. Whatever the cost of that, this flick nails the details.
Lastly, I've never seen a movie with so many emotional beats, with such amazing pacing, with a knack for hitting the viewer again and again... and not worrying about whether or not you're ready for it.
Once the shooting starts, this movie is unrelenting in its plot triggers. By the end you're spent. There's a few light moments, a few breaks, and a few dips. But, pound for pound, there's never been an action movie with this much ACTION.
Do the math. Measure the minutes of this film. And watch it, again and again.