Black Hawk Down (2001)

(In theaters, January 2002) Hollywood has the unfortunate tendency to glorify or demonize soldiers, depending on whether they’re needed as heroes or villains. It’s far less common to see a realistic depiction of their work and that makes Black Hawk Down even more worthwhile. There have been few rewarding post-Vietnam military movies, but this one is able to present the chaos of combat, combine it with high-adrenalin action sequences, get fancy with the artistry and go wild with the special effects. The result is a deeply impressive war film and a satisfying action flick. It does resemble a western from time to time, what with the hordes of “little brown people” attacking numerically disadvantaged Aryan heroes, but it does work quite well (and, according to the Pentagon, ranks highly on the realism). Prepare to be overwhelmed by the non-stop action, the constantly-moving camera and the aggressive sound effects. The film is not without flaws, though; the first half-hour is generally trite and conventional, the ending is a touch too pretentious and director Ridley Scott still hasn’t learned how to build perfectly coherent action scenes. (Though he’s learned a lot since the half-mess that was Gladiator) Still, Black Hawk Down is a darn good film, and the best recent representation of modern infantry combat.

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