Black Hawk Down

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(2001) ★★★★

Film4: Thursday 2 July, 9pm

Overstepping their UN peacekeeping remit, US Rangers enter a hostile area in Somalia to extract a couple of key dissidents. The Mogadishu mission is a fiasco, quickly turning into a desperate rescue operation amid constant gunfire. Ridley Scott’s visceral war adventure is barely concerned with the political context of America’s East African foul-up in the early 1990s, concentrating almost entirely on the dreadful chaos of combat on the ground. Eric Bana’s battle-hardened loner serves as the movie’s mouthpiece, informing an idealistic young soldier that “once that first bullet goes past your head, politics go right out the window.” At the end, after two hours of grim death and gory action, it’s left to Bana to put the carnage into some kind of perspective: “It’s all about the man next to you.” As in Mel Gibson’s We Were Soldiers, good intentions and camaraderie clearly supersede any qualms about the consequences of interventionist action. But however blinkered the outlook, this is a stunning piece of film-making, recalling the pitiless ferocity of the Vietnam combat movies Hamburger Hill and Full Metal Jacket. Scott, though, is far less cynical about the military than Stanley Kubrick, and if his film has a fault, it’s the way in which a mission that’s misguided at best is endowed with excessive nobility. On an abstract level, the picture remains dazzling, a pyrotechnic assault on the senses that is at times oddly serene. Never more so than in the formal beauty of helicopters flying in unison over the Indian Ocean, accompanied on the soundtrack by Jimi Hendrix’s Voodoo Chile.

Certificate: 15

Duration: 140min

Other Showings Time & Date
Film4 Wednesday, 8 July at 9:00PM