So I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “Why a war movie at this time of year?” Well as some of you may know, I’m from Chicago and my beloved Blackhawks won their 3rd Stanley Cup title in the last six years. But what you probably don’t know is that the team’s name is not based on a Native American Tribe.
Instead the team’s original owner Major Frederic McLaughlin chose the name Black Hawks because of the nickname of his army unit. So it only made sense that I should watch “Black Hawk Down,” an Oscar winner that I remember hearing about when I was young. Sure it has absolutely nothing to do with hockey but it is still a film worth seeing.
Based on a true story, the movie focuses on an attempted raid by American forces in Somalia that goes horribly awry. While you can feel tension as well as sense of impending doom, the first hour or so feels pretty tame. Only one or two soldiers are killed and you feel more overwhelmed because of the amount of characters that have been introduced to you.
But then one of the Black Hawk helicopters is shot down and the intensity begins. As the troops struggle to survive and save those in trouble, you as the viewer feel a sense of desperation and anxiety. You always fear that stray bullet or hidden enemy will instantly end a soldier’s life. And as the fear grows, the deaths become more and more gruesome.
You see bodies not whole and hands missing which I’m sure make this movie hard to watch for those who are squeamish. But it adds so much to the intensity and tone of the film; this is very real. It’s not just that the story is true but more the way it is told that really leaves the biggest impact on you.
And while I bet almost all of us have seen movies based on war especially modern warfare, the sense of realism makes “Black Hawk Down” stand out even more. When you see one soldier sacrifice himself to save another really affects you. And then when that same soldier is enduring an exceeding amount of pain to survive after the fact, you feel the moment’s impact. It is these kinds of actions and scenes when this film is truly at its best. Finally when the rest of the soldiers are running at the end to get to safety, you feel the tension finally running away from you.
A funny side-note, for me at least, was seeing so many recognizable actors. I lost count after a while just due to the sheer amount with so many of them having their big roles in upcoming years. If you’ve seen it before, you may want to re-watch the film just to see how many you can name.
Now I knew “Black Hawk Down” would have essentially no affiliation with the hockey team but in some ways it does. The Chicago team’s name was meant to honor those brave men who fought in war and this movie illustrates the kind of bravery as well as sacrifice the Blackhawks are meant to commemorate. These men were true champions.
+ Danny Reiter is the producer of the Dan Sileo Show