The tagline to this film, the latest offering from Ridley Scott and his first joint effort with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is leave no man behind. This sums up Black Hawk Down, a sort of Saving Private Ryan from Apocalypse Now type of film. Much hype surrounds the film and Scott and Bruckheimer have been in Australia actively promoting the production.

The film is based on Philadelphia Inquirer journalist Mark Bowden’s book about the 1993 incident in Mogadishu, Somalia. It is important to know that Bowden wrote the story of the US 18-hour debacle in Africa as a story of modern war where young soldiers were trapped in a fight to the death. What is missing from Black Hawk Down, the film, is the truth about what really happened but then we have come to expect that, especially since 11 September. I have heard Ridley Scott describe the film in various ways. On the one hand it is a film to increase awareness of what these guys are doing for us in Afghanistan; then, at the same time, It certainly ain’t a recruiting film.

Black Hawk Down has received four Academy Award nominations: Slawomir Idziak (Blue, The Double Life Of Veronique) for his extraordinary cinematography; Ridley Scott for direction; Pietro Scalia (JFK) for editing; and Mike Minkler, Myron Nettinga and Chris Munro for sound.

In 144 minutes Ridley Scott attempts to portray the stark realism and intensity of war in a cin? v?t?ay. Unfortunately, even though Scott pruned the 100 speaking parts of the book to 37 in the film, there is no character development and, therefore, little emotional investment. It is all high testosterone stuff, lots of rushing around with guns, bombs, bullets and bodies. I found myself trying to read the names on helmets to even try and work out who was who in the film. It is technically superb, especially the photography, although on the soundtrack front we have that nice sweet Enya-Pearl Harbor touch whenever the US forces are on the screen. Black Hawk Down is basically a story about murder, although Josh Hartnett, (Pearl Harbor) who plays a Ranger staff sergeant, would do George Dubya proud.

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