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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Black Hawk Down': A Pulse-Pounding and Reflective Reenactment of the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu

Movie poster for the film Black Hawk Down (2001)

Black Hawk Down (2001) is a pulse-pounding war drama that reenacts the U.S. military's controversial raid on Mogadishu, Somalia in October of 1993. Intending to capture advisers to Somali military officer Mohamed Farrah Aidid, American forces drew a fierce onslaught from Somali militiamen leading to the downing of two American Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.

Central amongst the U.S. personnel involved in the conflict are Matthew Eversmann (Josh Hartnett), an empathetic Staff Sergeant commanding his first paratrooper unit, and John Grimes (Ewan McGregor) a desk clerk upgraded to field duty. The ensuing operation on the streets of Mogadishu sees Grimes separated from his crew while the full battalion takes heavy fire from Somali forces—a brutal onslaught encircling the obliteration of the titular UH-60s by rocket-propelled grenades. The surviving Army Ranger and Delta Force troops are left in a frenzied scramble to barricade themselves and endure a night-long siege by Aidid loyalists.

Based on Mark Bowden's 1999 book "Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War" and directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Gladiator), Black Hawk Down is a fervent depiction of modernized armed conflict. Scott's film conscientiously avoids glorification of warfare and eschews moral righteousness, instead honing in on the perilous juxtaposition between military strategy, mortality and human spirit. Technically superb, with a major lift from cinematographer Sławomir Idziak, it's an indelible viewing experience—a blistering immersion into the true horrors of military hostility.


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