review by Jon Waterman
does Ridley Scott bother to make movies anymore? Wait, heres
a better question: Why do I keep going to see Ridley Scott movies? I
guess Im just hoping to see another modern classic, such as Blade
Runner or Alien. Instead Im subjected to
watching another two and a half mind-numbing hours of the same old formulaic,
quasi-emotional gore fest that has become the war movie.
This film takes place in 1993 during the United States intervention of
the civil strife in Somalia. White titles superimposed over a scrolling
shot of corpses with open eyes gives the viewer an early indication of the forced
tone of the picture. The US devises a plan to take many high-powered renegades
prisoner, thus hoping to get them closer to their true missionthe capture/assassination
of Mohamed Farrah Aidid. However, something goes wrong as one of the American
Black Hawk helicopters is shot down. The small group of soldiers must now
switch their focus to the crash so that no man is left behind.
Throughout the film, the audience is subjected to the standard set of visuals. Even
though all the cinematography techniques for shooting a war movie (graininess
of the image, muted set of colors, extreme close-ups, etc.) are new, they are
already overused and boring. The movie didnt look stylized, it looked
like it was just copying movies like Saving Private Ryan, Three
Kings, and even Behind Enemy Lines. Oh, and by the way,
when Im watching a movie for more than two hours, Id prefer not to
see only dust and debris for fifteen minutes.
You already know the plot, but what about the screenplay? Ken Nolan and
Steve Zaillian collaborated on the script. It boggles the mind as to how
the writer of Schindlers List could let such horribly basic
and tired dialogue go through. The script is written in such a way that
the whole picture becomes meaningless thanks to the last ten minutes of dialogue. They
also wrote in strange scenes that carried no weight, but for some reason, the
audience was supposed to care.
For instance, after one of the helicopters gets shot down, we are brought back
to the base where we encounter a new character named Thomas. For around
five minutes we sit with Thomas as he makes a decision as to whether or not to
go in and fight (once again through dull dialogue). Does he go in or not? Who
cares? We dont know this guy. We never see him again. He
carries no particular significance to the furthering of the story. If this
one guy happened to be the hero of the story who pulls of some heroics to get
everyone home, Id accept his story as another element of the formula. As
Thomas stands, he means nothing more than time ticking away in a movie theater.
The film contains little merit. The acting screamed B-movie everywhere,
except for Ewan McGregor and Jeremy Piven who know how to work around bad writing. All
of the phoned-in performances almost made me enjoy the dreadful continuous switching
so many subplots floating around, there was little time (even in a 2+ hour movie)
to linger on one particular star. Whatever. The
time Josh Hartnett spends on screen the better.
If youre out there looking for a big action flick with lots of guns and
gore and explosions, then I guess you could watch Black Hawk Down. However,
youll discover nothing new, nothing exciting, nothing suspenseful and nothing
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