WAR IS AWESOME
Whilst I don't think that's the central thesis that Ridley Scott wants you to take from BLACK HAWK DOWN it's kind of hard to take any other view from it. Sure it has the occasional moment where it tries to portray the Somalians as actual human beings, but 99.8% of the film casts the native residents of Mogadishu as essentially Urak-Hai. A ravening, almost unseen, horde of violence and destruction which rushes in on the American forces like a tidal wave of hatred.
Whilst it's easy to find this approach to be a little unsettling when dealing with real life events that happened not two decades ago there is a purity of vision to the film that is almost commendable. It's not attempting to tell a balanced account of what happened on that day, it's trying to get into the heads of the soldiers involve and really explore the idea of brotherhood under fire.
It's essentially TOP GUN for a modern audience and I'd be surprised if the film didn't convince a whole bunch of people to join up with the military after seeing it. Whilst the film attempts to portray the horror and carnage of warface, Ridley Scott is almost unable to completely commit to it and as such the savagery of combat becomes almost operatic in his film. Bullet casings fall to the ground in slow motion, explosions glower with malevolence, military equipment sheens like it was forged by the gods themselves whilst Hans Zimmers pounding score fills the air with chugging guitars.
It's a film completely lacking in subtlety, evidenced by its entire second and third act being devoted to one sprawling firefight, but it's endearingly unsubtle. Completely unconcerned with tact and diplomacy and more interested in deifying the men on the ground. It's Triumph of the Will with less Triumph and a lot more ohh-rahh.
But amidst the ooh-rahhiffic nature of the film are surprisingly well drawn characters, who you're engaged by, played by a relative who's who of upcoming talent. Watching it in 2012 almost makes the film more star studded than its initial release and there's something giddily satisfying about watching a film where Tom Sizemore is the veteran lynchpin actor. With its focus split between dozens of different characters its hard to pin down any real stand stars of the film, but Sizemore, Eric Bana and William Fichtner pretty much demand your attention whenever they're on screen. Bana in particular delivers the kind of performance that makes you rue and lament his eventual settling into the supporting character role as the guy is legitimately amazing whenever he's on screen.