Movie Thoughts: Black Hawk Down

Black Hawk Down was a 2001 war film directed by Ridley Scott. It was based on the Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War book by Mark Bowden. My dad served in the Army, so he likes a lot of war movies. He took me to see Black Hawk Down. It ended up being one of my favorite war movies. I didn’t know it at the time, but it had the same director as Gladiator, one of my other favorite movies at the time. That may have had something to do with it.

It was interesting to see a war movie that didn’t take place during the World Wars. So many war movies go that route. I’m sure there are many good stories to tell, but it gets tiring having the same setting every time. Black Hawk Down was great because it took place in the near past and in a very different part of the world. How many war movies take place in Africa? It’s pretty rare.

What I also liked about the movie was that it didn’t show the Americans beating everyone. Too many war movies show the Americans as perfect, but this movie rightly showed them as flawed. I think America does a lot of good in the world, but they also have a hard time saying no to a fight. We need to apply the just war doctrine to every situation. It will show that many times we shouldn’t be getting involved.

Back to the movie, I liked how realistic it was. It didn’t feel like a movie. It looked like real war footage as if a reporter was recording it live. The movie also hit at the perfect time, right around the War in Afghanistan. Black Hawk Down set the standard for all the later war movies that took place in and around the Middle East. I don’t think the movie was perfect though. I didn’t like all the blood and guts even back when I first saw it. I don’t like killing in general these days, even without all the blood.

With age has come the wisdom to realize that real life is not like these movies. The good guys don’t always win. Sometimes the good guys do win but later happenings undo the good. We need only look at the real life result of Black Hawk Down (Battle of Mogadishu). In the short term the Americans did destabilize the militant leaders, but it didn’t have any lasting effect. To this day there is still regular civil war going on in Somalia. All that lost life, both American and Somali, was a waste. This is in contrast to World War II, for example. Millions died but now no one has to worry about Hitler or the Japanese empire.


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