Review Date: January 09, 2002
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Ken Nolan
Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Ridley Scott
Based on an actual 1993 military mission (the longest sustained ground battle involving American soldiers since the Vietnam War), a group of American fighters are dropped inside the war zone of Mogadishu, in order to abduct two of the Somali warlord's right-hand men which, according to their estimates, shouldn't take more than half and hour. Well, things don't go as smoothly as planned and it isn't long before over 100 American military personnel are fighting for their lives, among 5,000 heavily-weaponed militia.
War is hell. I say again...war is hell! And if anyone out there doesn't know exactly what that means, check yourself into this movie and find out. Yikes! Guns, rocket launchers, grenades, automatic weapons, blood, gore, guts, death, violence and yeah...that's just the first five minutes of the assault. Damn, I don't think I've ever experienced a war movie that puts you so inside an extreme combat situation, as does this film. I mean, you really feel as though you are running around in the streets of Somalia with these poor bastards, and it's goddamn scary, man! (take the street shoot-out scene from HEAT and multiply that by 100!) In fact, I turned to the Arrow at some point during this movie and said, "Man, I'd just put a bullet in my head right there." Like I said earlier...war is hell, and if hundreds of machine-gun waving Somalis were headed in my direction with only one thing on their mind, which was to whack my sorry ass out...I'd end that shit myself. But that's the inspiration behind this film...these men are courageous...these men fight on...these men do not leave their buddies behind and they will fight until there isn't any more fighting to be done. Well, unfortunately if you're a fan of "story", you might not get as much out of this film, since the gun battles are basically its focal drive. The film starts off beautifully, with an almost artsy look at the beginning of it all, with unsure soldiers fooling around, playing Elvis tunes, cracking jokes, but it ain't long before the breathtaking aerial shots by Ridley Scott are turned into a nightmarish hour and a half of violence, blood, guts and mucho-loud gunfire.
Is it entertaining? Yes. Is it interesting? Pretty much. Is it redundant? Yes. In fact, as amazing as it was to "get inside" this type of situation, at some point, even I (the "man" that I am!) started to get a little jaded by it all. And it's definitely not for the weak of stomach. There are some really disgusting images shown on the big screen, some wicked gun fights and one particularly memorable slaying in which an American soldier is left alone in a helicopter, as a gang of Somali militia break their way into his niche, and begin to kill-very chilling. But on the whole, even though I was interested in the story and engaged throughout, I felt very little for any of the characters, and could actually not tell some of them apart. Sure, Eric Bana kicked ass, Josh Hartnett was solid in his part and Sam Shepard ingrained his role with great leadership, but many of the others were barely glanced over, and as much as I wanted to get into their stories, there was honestly too much gunplay and not enough exposition or dialogue between the film's characters to care. Then again, maybe that wasn't the film's intent. Maybe the filmmakers only wanted us to experience the full-blown reality of these types of situations, and if that was the case, well, I most certainly felt that! But be warned, if you thought that the first half hour of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN was rough...step inside the core of this film and you'll be rattled by much of that same sense of desperation for over an hour, with barely a minute to breathe.
(c) 2013 Berge Garabedian