Black Hawk Down

It's somewhat ironic that the latest Schwarzenneger fare, Collateral Damage, has more commentary about terrorism than Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down. The movie is extremely enjoyable, and filled with spectacularly-filmed action scenes, but there's little else besides that.

The story is based on a real life event that occurred in October 1993: helicopter-borne soldiers were shot down over hostile territory when they were on a peacekeeping mission in the war-torn Somalia. At the end of the mission, over 300 Somalis and eighteen Americans were killed. (The continuing conflict resulted in the deaths of thousands of Somalis and thirty Americans). The mission of targeting the top aides of Mohamed Farrah Aidid, one of the Somali warlords and self-proclaimed "President of Somalia", was a failure. (Aidid was later murdered in 1996; his son, who then took over Aidid's position, was (is?) a U.S. Marine who grew up in California, illustrating yet again the complexities of human conflict.)

The movie attempts to illustrate what it is like to fight under extremely hostile conditions, where the mission to be performed is not only dangerous, but is not welcomed by a particular segment of the general populace. When the soldiers are shot down, the movie moves into high gear and is pure adrenaline-filled action.

The movie is highly engaging, though as a pacifist, I find expressions of violence not very perturbing, and sometimes even comical (the same thing happened when I saw Saving Private Ryan, particularly with regards to the similar hand-incident). This is because I think raw violence is a relatively easy fix for difficult problems, and an expected human response. Violence abstracted is much more terrifying to ponder.

Since the movie starts with the premise of soldiers trapped in enemy terroritory, there is little ambiguity here. But the explosions and the kinetic action sequences, including the spectacularly-filmed helicopter crashes and rocket attacks, more than make up for it. Black Hawk Down is definitely worth watching on the big screen.

Movie ramblings || Ram Samudrala ||