Thursday, August 8, 2013

#13 - Black Hawk Down (2001)

BACK-STORY:  “Black Hawk Down” is a film by Ridley Scott (“Kingdom of Heaven”) based on the bestseller by Mark Bowden.  Bowden wrote the definitive history of the Battle of Mogadishu and the events surrounding it.  Ken Nolan adapted the book with input from Bowden.  The movie was filmed in Morocco.  The Pentagon cooperated with helicopters and even provided Rangers to do the fast roping (some of whom had been in the battle).  The movie was a critical and financial success.  It won Oscars for Editing and Sound and was nominated for Cinematography and Director.

OPENING:  The movie is “based on an actual event”.  A crawl describes the situation in Somalia leading into the battle.  Scott leads with a quote from Plato:  “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”  300,000 civilians had died in a famine causing the United Nations to send in food shipments.  20,000 Marines were inserted to protect the shipments and the starvation was brought under control.  When the Marines were withdrawn, a local war lord named Aidid who had dreams of ruling Somalia began to make war on the UN peacekeepers.  When 24 Pakastani’s were killed, the U.S. State Department pushed through a UN resolution calling for the arrest of Aidid.  Pres. Clinton sent Task Force Ranger to accomplish the mission.  It consisted of Rangers and Delta Force and was led by Gen. Garrison (Sam Shepard).

SUMMARY:  On Oct. 2, 1993, a Black Hawk helicopter witnesses some of Aidid’s militia opening fire on a crowd at a food distribution center.  The Americans can’t intervene due to their rules of engagement.  Later that day, a Delta Force team arrests one of Aidid’s inner circle.  When Garrison interviews Atto, he is told the situation is “a civil war.  This is our war.”  Garrison responds that “300,000 dead is not a war, it’s genocide.”  This exchange encapsulates the views of the two sides.

                A barracks scene introduces us to the main characters.  Little snippets of conversation and activities to personalize them a bit.  The Rangers and the D-Boys (Delta Force) are housed together in a hangar.  There is a vibe that the D-Boys are undisciplined and not team players, but totally bad ass.  Sgt. Eversmann (Josh Hartnett), one of the Rangers, makes a case for viewing the Somalis with some sympathy.  The rest of the banter makes it clear that most of the Rangers are uninterested in the big picture and look forward to combat in a naïve, prove your manhood way.

                On Oct. 3, a breakthrough occurs when an informant is prepared to finger two more of Aidid’s people.  Garrison outlines the mission to the various leaders (and the audience).  The best laid plans…  Lt. Col. McKnight (Tom Sizemore) points out some possible problems:  daytime negates America’s huge night vision advantage, no armor will be included, they will be going into Aidid’s turf, and the “skinnies’ will be high on katt (the national “I don’t give a shit if I’m shot” drug).  No worries.  We’re Americans and it will only take 30 minutes.  What could go wrong?  Shit flows down as most of the force dispenses with extra water, night vision goggles, or body armor.  What could go wrong?  The preparation montage includes three dead meat cliches.  One Ranger insists on leaving a “death letter” with a friend.  Another calls home but has to leave a message on the answering machine.  A third removes his back armor because he feels its just extra weight and it’s only a thirty minute jaunt.

Black Hawks coming
                The ingress is in trouble immediately as the Somali early warning system has the militias aping ants swarming from a kicked hill.  The helicopters swoop into the center of the city ala “Apocalypse Now”.  The Delta boys capture the targets at the Olympia Hotel with little difficulty, but things begin to break down when one of the Rangers fast ropes sans rope.  Three Humvees are designated to rush the badly injured Blackburn (Orlando Bloom) back to base.  Meanwhile, the entire force is taking fire from the enraged populace.  (This is the Somalian NRAs favorite movie.)  Even unarmed civilians head for the action.

Blackburn down
                The first American death occurs in that three vehicle column.  Wait, can they do that?  Soon after, a Black Hawk is hit by a rocket propelled grenade.  Wait, can they do that too?  The chopper crashes and Gen. Garrison (monitoring from headquarters) stoically intones: “We just lost the initiative.”  A Ranger squad called Chalk 4 is ordered to proceed to and secure the crash site.  Eversmann is in command and leads his men through the streets while taking fire from all directions.  Two Rangers are left behind and their attempts to hook back up provide the only comic relief in the otherwise seriously intense combat.   The convoy carrying the detainees, led by McKnight, is diverted to the crash site.  Unfortunately, it gets lost in the maze of streets.  The Humvees and trucks are bullet and RPG magnets.  A number of D-Boys led by Sgt. Sanderson (William Fichtner) and Rangers led by Capt. Steele (Jason Isaacs) head for the crash site on foot.  The younger, inexperienced Rangers hunker down in a building short of the site due to concern for several seriously wounded men.  The D-Boys continue on to the site to link up with Chalk 4.    Casualties are also mounting among the Americans in the convoy, but the Somalis are getting more than some.

                Just when things could not be worse, a second Black Hawk is hit by an RPG and goes down.  Two Delta snipers volunteer to protect whoever has survived.  When Schugart (Johnny Strong) and Gordan (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) arrive, only one of the pilots named Durant (Ron Eldard) is still alive.  Skinnies are closing in and the odds are not favorable, to say the least.  It’s three against hundreds.  Schugart and Gordon do not go down easy and Durant is taken captive.

Gordan is Medal of Honor bound
                As darkness closes in, it is determined that the convoy should return to base and the Alamo will have to hold out until an armored column provided by the 10th Mountain Division and UN forces can bash its way to the first crash site.  This also means no medevac for Cpl. Smith (Charlie Hofheimer) who is bleeding out.  The fighting continues with Little Bird helicopter gunships helping keep the Somalis at bay.

Hoot about to shoot a boor
CLOSING:  McKnight leads the UN relief column to the first crash site.  Withdrawal is postponed in order to extract the body of the pilot Wolcott (Jeremy Piven).  No man left behind.  On the way back, a group of soldiers including Eversmann, Steele, and Sanderson have to come in on foot.  They run to the sanctuary of the soccer stadium where they are greeted by Pakistanis with trays of water.  Hoot (Eric Bana), a hard core Delta operative, prepares to go back into the city.  He tells Eversmann that the public “won’t understand why we do this….  It’s about the man next to you.”  Eversmann says good bye to Smith.  Nobody wants to be a hero, it just works out that way.


Action                    10/10
Acting                     A
Accuracy                A
Plot                         A
Realism                  A
Cliches                    B

Overall                   A+

WOULD CHICKS DIG IT?  It is definitely oriented toward males.  There is a tremendous amount of testosterone in it.  The actors are mostly Hollywood hunks, but check whether your significant other is fascinated by hockey players.  That’s the closest equivalent to how much of them you can see to distinguish the person.  Not a single woman speaks in the film.  There is no romance.  There is a lot of bromance.  However, if your girl is a war movie tolerator, cares about history, or likes action movies, give it a try.  Just be prepared to have to watch “The Notebook” in retaliation.

HISTORICAL ACCURACY:  When I first saw the movie in the theater and then read the book, I thought it was the most accurate war movie I had ever seen.  The research I have done for this post has caused me to back off a little bit on that.  There are inaccuracies, but they are all explainable and acceptable in a Hollywood context.  Nolan and Scott did an admirable job trying to adhere to the book.

                The crawl at the beginning explaining the situation is spot on.  The Rangers/Delta dynamic is substantially as it was, but the movie overplays the rivalry a bit.  In reality, most of the Rangers admired the Deltas.  There was a conflict between the by the book Steele and the Delta Force commanders (embodied in the fictional Sanderson).  The mission as outlined by Garrison was correct.  The various potential problems questioned by McKnight and the mistakes made by the individual soldiers with regard to gear are realistic.  Interestingly, other than the brief mention by McKnight, the film does not show that a large number of the Somali men were high on katt and correspondingly unconcerned for their lives.

                The ingress and taking of the suspects is accurate.  Blackburn’s fall, Pilla’s death, and Wolcott’s crash all happened as shown in the film.  The plight of the convoy is realistic.  The movie downplays the confused meanderings for time reasons.  The movement of Chalk 4 / Delta / Rangers to the first crash site is acceptably handled.  The crash of Durant’s bird and the actions of Schugart and Gordon are very well reenacted.  The movie leaves out the support from above by gunships.  Similarly, other than the one awesome run during the night stand at the Alamo, the nonstop efforts of the Little Birds in holding off the skinnies is skipped.

                Probably the biggest fudging occurs towards the end (see “We Were Soldiers”).  McKnight did not lead the relief column and when it arrived, the crash site was under control and not under fire.  The “Mogadishu Mile”was exaggerated because in actuality they did not run all the way to the stadium.

                The biggest discrepancies with the true story is with the characters.  There are about 100 named American soldiers in the book.  The movie pares this down to 39 which is totally understandable.  It was necessary to create composite characters, again for good reason.  The most important is Eversmann.  The movie needed a “star” and Josh Hartnett (coming off “Pearl Harbor”) was tapped.  Eversmann was a good choice for this role, but when the convoy left the Olympia Hotel he and Chalk 4 were on board.  It was Chalk 2, led by a Sgt. DiTomasso, that moved to the crash site.  Some of his men got separated, including Twombly and Yurek, but Nelson (the deafened guy) was with DiTomasso.  Almost all of the Delta guys have fictional names for security reasons, but they seem to be based on actual operatives.  Hoot is mainly fictional for narrative purposes (to act as a point of view), but is loosely based on an amazing warrior named Macejunas.

                The most interesting (and tragic) adjustment was for the Grimes (Ewan McGregor) character.  He was based on Johnny Stebbins who was a clerk that was thrust into the mission (although in reality he was eager to join).  Stebbins, like Grimes, seemed to attract RPGs.  He earned a Silver Star.  The name was changed because before production, Stebbins was convicted of child abuse.

                For more on the accuracy, see my “History or Hollywood:  Black Hawk Down” list.  As a preview, almost all the small interesting details in the movie are true.  Ex.  the severed hand with the watch.

CRITIQUE:  Ridley Scott when he has the right script (“Gladiator”, “Alien”, “Blade Runner”) can be a great director.  He was on his game for this film.  It is hard to imagine the movie being better made.  The cinematography by Slawomir Idziak is amazing.  Academy Awards went for Sound and Editing.  The choice to use the cities of Rabat and Sale in Morocco to stand in for Mogadishu was inspired.  Many of the veterans remarked about how much the sets looked like the real thing.  (Although given the food problem, it is doubtful that the Mog had hundreds of dogs running around.  Watch the movie again.)  The effects are incredible and surprisingly done without a surfeit of CGI.  It is impossible to tell where CGI is used.  Most of the helicopter stunts are real and showcase the amazing skills of the Night Stalkers.

                The score by Hans Zimmer is excellent.  He blends two opposing strains.  There is a techno sound to support the American scenes and North African music representing the Somalis.  In some scenes, like the opening food distribution scene, the two styles meld to stark effect.  Overall, the soundtrack is one of the great war movie soundtracks.

                The acting is top notch from what appears to be an all-star cast.  However, at the time it was not a who’s who list, it was a who’s gonna be who list.  Aside from Shepard and Sizemore, the young cast was on the cusp of stardom.  One fun thing about the movie is recognizing the future stars.  One problem with the movie is you really have to look carefully.  It is not easy to distinguish between the characters even with names inauthentically added to their helmets.  The movie rewards multiple viewings.  On the plus side, no one really stands out because no one embarrasses themselves.  All of the performances are solid.  As per a modern war movie, the actors went through “boot camp” type experiences.  They move and behave like soldiers.

                  The plot has come under some criticism for lack of character development.  This is a misguided condemnation.  The fact is that the film was meant to be about the soldiers, not about a few individuals.  It did not have the same purpose as “Platoon”, for instance.  The closest equivalent that comes to mind is “Pork Chop Hill”.  It is hard to do an accurate account of a battle (which is clearly the intention of the film) and also develop the characters.  You would need a miniseries to do that (like “Generation Kill”).  In spite of time constraints, BHD does sufficient character introductions in the barracks scene.  Originally the movie was supposed to start with the mission so it could have been even less character driven.  Quit complaining.

                Another criticism is of the lack of coverage of the Somali point of view.  This is also unfair.  Considering the movie is a tribute to the American soldiers, it is asking too much that the enemy be given equal treatment.  They could have easily been demonized (and perhaps should have been), but the movie is sympathetic in a fair way.  One of the militiamen (‘sunglasses guy”) is featured in several scenes and gets to shoot down the first Black Hawk.  (He also gets a crowd-pleasing demise.)  Another interrogates Durant and forcefully represents the Somali point of view.  He also gets the best line when Durant turns down a cigarette.  “That’s right.  None of you Americans smoke anymore.”  Overall, the Somalis are depicted as worthy foes.  The movie does not portray them as katt-crazed nuts (which many were).  It also does not show the use of women and kids as human shields.

Sunglasses Guy
                There has never been a better movie about modern urban warfare.  The action is incredibly intense and yet may not even equal what it was like in Mogadishu that day.  For instance, there were a lot more RPGs fired.  And the gunships were under-represented.  The depiction of graphic wounds is stomach-turning, but realistic.  The movie does an excellent job on battlefield medicine with the attempts to save Smith being particularly powerful.  More importantly, the film is tactically sound in that it accurately reflects the tactical mistakes made that day.
                The biggest strength of the movie is it gets the military ethos right.  It was meant to be a tribute to the participants and that mission was accomplished.  The families of the dead were given some closure.  Schugart and Gordon, in particular, deserved this film.  The film has been wrongly labeled pro-war.  That is ridiculous.  It is pro-military, however.  Obviously the Pentagon felt that way considering the immense cooperation.  That is not to say that the military got a puff piece.  The movie does not sugarcoat the mistakes that were made, but it does not bludgeon us with them either.  I would hope the movie is required viewing at West Point.  God forbid the military should learn from its mistakes.  (Interestingly, although the Pentagon truthfully insists the mission was successful, the movie does not convey that.)  Significantly, the movie also does not take a stand on the policy of sending Task Force Ranger to Somalia.  Or the Clinton decision to turn tail and run after the battle.
CONCLUSION:  This movie belongs in the top ten war movies of all time.  It is also in the top ten most accurate war movies of all time.  It has many of the things I look for in a war movie for it to be considered great and important.  It accurately tells a story that needed to be told (ex. “The Great Raid”), it memorializes soldiers who deserved the accolades (ex. “We Were Soldiers”), it is realistic in tactics and soldier behavior (ex. “ A Walk in the Sun”), and it is entertaining.  It is hard to get those first three and also arrive at the fourth.  You may have noticed that I grade war movies on action using a scale of 1-10.  Surprisingly, many war movies do not have a lot of action per running time.  Once the mission begins, BHD is almost continuous action.  And it’s true, not bull crap. 
P.S.  There are three things I take away from this movie.  1.  America (and the military) puts a very high premium on soldier lives as we got further from the Vietnam War.  It was the biggest firefight since Vietnam and the twenty years had a softening effect.  When the first death occurs, everyone is stunned and the 19 deaths were treated like a disaster.  Imagine that reaction in any of our previous wars.  2.  The military cares a lot about its wounded and dead.  Blackburn (the first of many casualties) has three Humvees detached to transport him back to base.  That was 1/3 of the convoy!  3.  Our modern volunteer military is very efficient.  Most of the Rangers had never seen combat and were fighting against a lot of Somalis who had.  They gave way more than they got and survived against enormous odds.
HISTORY or HOLLYWOOD:  Black Hawk Down
When Aidid’s mlitia opens fire on the crowd at the food distribution center, the Americans can not intervene because they have not been fired upon.  HOLLYWOOD  The militia are using a technical (a truck with a large machine gun) which means the Americans could have fired on it.  Aidid did use food as a weapon in his quest for power.
Atto was taken prisoner when a Delta sniper put a round in his car engine.  HISTYWOOD  True, but Atto ran into a building where he was chased and arrested.
Steele considered the Delta’s to be undisciplined cowboys and liked to use football analogies in his pep talks.  HISTORY
The informant designated the target location by parking and raising his hood.  HISTORY
Ruiz leaves a “death letter” with Sizemore who canot go because of an arm in a cast.  HISTORY
Schugart left a message on his wife’s answering machine.  HISTORY   Except it was Sgt. Mike Goodale.
Blackburn falls when the Black Hawk dodges an RPG.  HOLLYWOOD  The fact is that most likely Blackburn screwed up and simply missed the rope.
Wolcott’s Black Hawk is hit in the tail and crashes in an open space.  A rescue Black Hawk is hit but stays on station long enough for Busch to be rescued.  HISTORY
Eversmann and Chalk 4 are sent to the crash site.  Yurek, Nelson, and Twombly are left behind.  HISTYWOOD  It was Chalk 2 under DiTomasso that was sent.  Chalk 4 left with the convoy.  Nelson was with DiTomasso, but Twombly and Yurek were separated.  Nelson did lose hearing from Twombly firing close to his ear, but this incident happened at the Alamo.
Unarmed Somali citizens went to the fighting instead of away.  HISTORY
An RPG embedded itself in the chest of a truck driver.  His hand was severed and picked up by another soldier.  HISTORY  It was his arm and it was picked up by a soldier named Hand.
Yurek takes refuge in a school where the teacher is protecting her students.  HISTORY
Steele refuses to move closer to the first crash site due to numerous wounded and the Delta’s moved on to the Alamo.  HISTORY  Steele did not have a good relationship with the Deltas and refused to communicate with them during the battle.
Thomas does not want to go back out, but changes his mind.  Sizemore insists on going.  HISTORY
Schugart and Gordon put Durant in a room.  It’s two against hundreds.  Gordan is killed first.  HISTYWOOD  Durant was actually propped up against a tree.  Little Birds aided in fighting off the mob.  Gordan did die first although the Medal of Honor citations got it wrong (according to Bowden).
Smith was wounded going to the aid of Nelson as he tried to get to the Alamo.  He died in spite of Schmid’s efforts to stop the bleeding.  HOLLYWOOD/HISTORY  Smith was hit while defending the Alamo.  The death scene is accurate.
Hoot took out the crew served weapon and then used it to kill sun glasses guy.  HOLLYWOOD  There was a large weapon in a window.  A Delta took it out using a grenade launcher.  Sun glasses guy was fictional.
A strobe was used to pinpoint the enemy for a Little Birds run.  HISTORY  Actually the strobes were used to mark the American positions.  There were also numerous Little Bird runs throughout the night.  The Alamo would have fallen without them.
McKnight led the relief convoy which consisted of Pakistani tanks and armored cars.  HOLLYWOOD  McKnight  did not go back out due to a serious wound.  The armored cars were Malaysian.
Some of the men had to run to the soccer stadium.  HISTORY  The “Mogadishu Mile” is basically as shown except they did not run all the way back to the stadium.  They were picked up on the way.
the trailer

Schugart and Gordan at the crash site




  1. We certainly agree on this one.
    Top 10 for me, no doubt. maybe even my number 1. I change sometimes, depending on my mood. but overall, I think it's amazing and without corny moments like in Saving Private Ryan.
    I think I've still not reviewed it, which is strange as it's by now the war movie I've seen the most. One of these days . . .
    Great review, very informative and detailed.
    I would probabaly not have chose the comparison to Pork Chop Hil. Since you mention Platoon, I'd compare it to Hamburger Hill.

  2. I remembered that it was one of your favorites. I agree there are no corny moments. However, it is not balanced enough to be the best of all time in my opinion. I would lean more to a movie like "Glory".

    "Hamburger Hill" would have been a good choice for equivalency, but I still think PCH is closer. It is more pure combat and little character development. HH is combat in the second half, but before that there is quite a bit of character development. It also has humor, which is pretty nonexistent in BHD and PCH.

    Speaking of watching it a lot, I saw it four times just for this review. I have a special DVD collection that has 3 commentary tracks! Plus two documentaries. Plus I read the book again. I could not know more about this movie.

  3. As a light & sound show it's genius, the director's craft is at his best. I'll take your word for it, it's probably as close as can be to significant operational details of the events - as viewed by the U.S. troops. However as a movie it goes absolutely nowhere, except as an immersive action-porn, shoot'em up videogame.

    Sometimes I wonder whether its author wanted some of us to laugh at, or even think of, the paradox of those precious, educated, high-tech overendowed American individuals getting repeatedly licked - and enjoying it - by a self-regenerating hydra of anonymous stone-age (well, AK47-stone age) African ghosts obviously hired for their performance a few year before as extras wearing cockroach suits in 'Starship Troopers'. Or ask ourselves about the limits of such a panoptic stance (can you really 'record' all of the action? what's left off-frame, and why?).

    And then I stop wondering: the answers are negative. It's the extreme candor (post Kosovo, pre 9/11) that gives the movie its strength - a brilliant piece of cinematic entertainment for which Mr Scott fully deserves the honorary title of 'Leni Riefenstahl of the Playstation age'.

    PS: I guess today they would use drones. I've been told the software lacks artistic direction, and probably music.

  4. You're not an American, are you? LOL I get where you are coming from, but I think you're bringing some bias in. If the movie was fictional I could agree with you more, but since the Battle of Mogadishu was basically as portrayed in the movie you can't blame Scott for the content. He certainly does not glamorize what the U.S. did in Somalia. It is made clear that we won the battle, but lost the war and deserved to. It is not propaganda which I assume your Riefenstahl reference implies.

    I can't wait to hear what you have to say about "300".

  5. I don't mind propaganda, actually. I mentioned Riefenstahl because of the absolute ethic emptiness of Scott's brilliant visual (and auditive) experience. To me, it's like those foods supercharged with salt, sugar and fat: using immediate pleasure to induce compulsion.

    By the way it is obviously a fiction film. There's no way you can get those shots in a real urban combat situation. Or it may cost much more cameramen than soldiers. :)

  6. I don't get that second paragraph. Are you saying every war film is fictional?

  7. Well, I wouldn't have mentioned it had you not written above that this one somehow wasn't.

    Checking the script against the operational record of a battle as established by one side's command and witnesses is important from a military history point of view, and thanks for doing that in your reviews. Yet from a film history point of view... "It is not a just image, it is just an image."

  8. On a sidenote: I received only minimal training in urban warfare (here, actually); it was long ago and I certainly wouldn't dare to compare myself with highly skilled professionals such as those portrayed in BHD, yet in my memory the experience was very confusing - and it was only training.

    It has been noticed that the battle scenes in Gladiator are absolutely chaotic, while those of BHD are... crystal clear. Why the clarity? Is it just for our understanding? Or is it to build an image of the civilized, technical, rational warrior - as opposed to the barbaric, natural, emotional one?

  9. I appreciate this dialogue, but I have to stick with my position that the movie is as accurate a portrayal of this particular urban warfare incident as you could expect. I do not feel that Scott's agenda included stressing that the U.S. soldiers were civilized as opposed to the barbaric Somalis. There is no doubt that Scott had admiration for the American boys who went through the experience and wanted to commemorate them, but he does not demonize the enemy. Scott's decision not to play up the katt factor is a good example of how he was restrained in his portrayal of the enemy. None of the Somali characters twirl their mustache and leer. Tactically speaking, the movie is much more harsh on the Americans than the Somalis. In many ways, the Americans come off as naively overconfident incompetents in general, especially at the command level.

    As far as the movie being one side's view, I think you underestimate Bowden's ability as a writer. I think he would take issue with your view.

    1. I was stressing the difference in shooting and editing between BHD and Gladiator battle scenes, not between Americans and Somalis. But then...

      Bowden's book contains several accounts of both the events and general context as seen by Somali eyes - individualized accounts. None of these individuals nor their points of view are in the movie. Instead, we have unidentified people dropping like injuns in a 30s or 40s Western, and a couple of thugs that bear more resemblance to urban America's crime bosses than anybody else.

      You're right, that's not being harsh, it's only de-humanizing entirely. Gosh, these Somalis, I'm sure they don't tell stories to their kids, let alone illustrated! Worse perhaps, skinnies don't surf! What a pity, with such beaches...

      Now, I understand the tactical need (on the actual ground) to deprive the foe of any biography - at some point. I also understand that the 'action movie' option taken by the director is in line with the U.S. soldiers' own accounts of their experience (Bowden, p. 345).

      However, on both counts the movie offers strictly no possibility of distancing - which people often confuse with 'criticizing' whereas it's mostly about making the tale real. My guess it's because, well, the show is just to good. It's Alien 5, in response not to Scott's own opus, but to Cameron's Aliens.

      PS: I found no record of Aidid's people in 1993 shooting at civilians when distributing food. Did you? And the July 12th raid on Aidid's presumed HQ isn't in the movie, whereas it plays an important part in Bowden's assessment of the context. Now, I admit accuracy is not my focus.

  10. Interesting comments. I did not find evidence of the firing on civilians other than that the American rules of engagement would have allowed them to intervene. I think that scene served as a general acknowledgement that Aidid was interfering with the food shipments.

    I agree that not enough was made by historians and journalists of the assault on the Aidid clan meeting by the UN. It was a crucial event and makes a strong case for Aidid being the aggrieved party, However, the movie is clearly about the Battle of Mogadishu with little interest in the build-up. That would have taken a mini-series. It does make it clear that the American soldiers were clueless about what they were doing in Somalia.

    There is no doubt that the film implies that the targeting of Aidid was justifiable. I agree with this but more could have been done to present Aidid's perspective. Although the Garrison / Atto scene does some of this.

  11. Well, it could be sustained that the July raid had some weight in explaining the strength of the reaction to the mission depicted in the film. In strictly tactical terms of course; that's a point Bowden makes. A title would have been enough, yet it was left out of the movie, which also reinforces the 'Alien' quality of the opponents.

    I do agree with your sentence: the movie "does make it clear that the American soldiers were clueless about what they were doing in Somalia". Unfortunately, it attempts to force a submarginal rationale on the viewers.

    We're both from States that however on an unequal scale not only have, but also regularly use, the power to engage their countrymen in military actions on foreign soil. Paying tribute to the values proper to risk and action, and the men who illustrate them, is one thing - but should it be at the expense of our interrogations as citizens (servicemen included of course)? We send the guys over there, I hope a good show isn't the reason why.

  12. "There is no romance. There is a lot of bromance. However, if your girl is a war movie tolerator, cares about history, or likes action movies, give it a try. Just be prepared to have to watch “The Notebook” in retaliation"

    Is this really still a common idea people have about women? I see this was posted in 2013, but still... 2013? After watching FMJ, I watched this movie tonight. Alone. Because I wanted to. And I know I'm not the only woman who does this sort of thing- I'm not special. And honestly, I think I know more men than women who actually like The Notebook. Having a "would chicks dig it" section is just so hilarious to me. Inserting any other thing like race or religion or men instead of chicks I think illustrates how stereotyped the section is.


Please fell free to comment. I would love to hear what you think and will respond.