Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down is Ridley Scott's visceral restaging of the Battle of Mogadishu between U.S. troops and Somali fighters in which the cost in hardware and men (19 Americans, 1,000 Somalis) totalled the worst since Vietnam. It is based o­n Mark Bowden's thoroughly detailed account of the Battle of the Black Sea, which first ran as a 29-part series in The Philadelphia Inquirer. In 1993, a U.S. army humanitarian mission was sent to restore stability in wartorn Somalia, where clan bloodshed, and Mohammed Farah Aidid (head warlord) together were destroying the country, and halting emergency food shipments provided by the already installed UN forces to the near-starving population. In response, the U.S. military set up a raid, o­n October 3, 1993 to kidnap Aidid's top lieutenants from Mogadishu's central marketplace, thus facilitating Aidid's withdrawal. The 'hour-long operation' turned into a gruelling 19-hour siege, in which the U.S. military's elite forces were enveloped by a heavily-armed Somali army. Scott drops us smack into the o­nslaught, pummelling us with flying bullets, limbs, and the unrelenting horror of battle, for nearly 2 hours, creating a visually aesthetic depiction of warfare, comparable o­nly to the bloody carnage of Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan or the aerial combat in Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now. Out of the 40-odd speaking parts, there are several identifiables: Josh Hartnett as the young idealist, Ewan McGregor as the itchy-for-battle soldier, Tom Sizemore as the convoy leader, and Sam Shepard as the General. Though stylistically sensational (like past successes Blade Runner, Alien, and Gladiator) the film lacks the sense of context to examine the political objectives behind the mission, and those inherent complexities. In Blackhawk Down, Scott's captured the medium without the messageĀ·