Catching Up

I like movies almost as much as music, but like music, there is so much good stuff out there, I feel like I’m always playing catch up.  So every once in awhile I try to see a movie or listen to an artist I’ve heard good things about.  This week, I finally got around to watching Black Hawk Down.

Visually, this was stunning.  The filmmakers did a good job of putting you right there in the action, and then when you’d be getting caught up in the weeds of the battle, they’d pull you back out with the viewpoint of the helicopter pilots or the COs back at base.  Very cleverly done.

Music was also well done.  I can’t remember off-hand any particular songs, but the music did a good job of mood-setting.

One problem with these ensemble war movies is a tendency to not relate to the characters.  There is the requisite pre-battle intro to the cast of characters, which is all and good, but there were just too many people to keep track of.  And then when they start getting killed in the battle, you’re left thinking “ok who was that again?”  But then people are dying off at such an alarming rate, it actually doesn’t matter to identify with the individual characters, you begin worrying for all of them.

This may have been done intentionally, but the enemy is portrayed as automatons whose sole purpose is to kill American soldiers.  The intro “history lesson” and the opening scene of the enemy troops firing on the innocent natives trying to get food sets them up as the bad guys.  Ok, I get it.  During the battle, only when the young kid accidentally shoots his father, is there any emotion from the enemy.  Maybe this was how it was, but it seemed a little over-the-top to me.

Only other quibble I had was a personal one.   Some guys you just associate with a movie or a role and it’s hard to get that out of your head while watching them in another movie.  Probably bound to happen with such a big cast, but two casting decisions just threw me.  One was the guy who played the soldier who goes deaf during the battle.  He is always going to be Spud from Trainspotting to me.  I kept waiting for him to shoot up or throw a sheetful of feces at the enemy.  And Tom Sizemore, though he can  probably play his character in Black Hawk in his sleep, will always be the cool-headed badass from Heat.  I was expecting the monologue about being in it for the rush.

Overall, this was a very entertaining film.  It also leaves you with the feeling that all of the suffering, for both sides, could have been avoided, or at the worst, was for naught.  Four out of five stars for me.

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One Response to “Catching Up”

  1. Sriram Says:

    it is a great movie … it is impersonal, but what Scott does so deftly is explain the entire disaster. it is a draining movie – and benefits from the Bruckheimer Armageddon noise treatment. it does a terrific job explaining the battle, how it went awry and how the conflict FELT – which is hard to evoke on film to me, while not making the battle seem fun.

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