The film itself is muddled and without any clear purpose other than to show pumped up historical events. Director Ridley Scott is careful to steer clear of any judgments, either political or moral. He seems to back away from a clear theme as well. Outside of “Geez, these guys really stepped in it.” I fail to see anything else to be taken from this film.
I do like this film, but only when taken for its parts and not for the whole piece. Scott is a brilliant director and his abilities are easily seen in the various scenes in this film. This film survives because of the small moments not because of the overall scope. The quick exchanges like those between McKnight (Tom Sizemore) and the young driver or Nelson and his compatriot when they begin to realize they have been left behind make the movie worthwhile. The sequences showing the attacks against the Black Hawks and the resulting gunfights are more examples. The scenes are great to watch, but as a whole, they lead nowhere.
One cannot speak about this film without acknowledging the amazing cast. This film is like a ‘who’s who’ of supporting actors. Almost every face is recognizable in this film even though at the time this film was shot with mostly relatively unknown actors. This is one of those films where you will watch it ten years from now and be surprised to see well known actors running around in the background. The single disappointment in the casting is Josh Hartnett. At the time the guy was getting cast in everything. His fortunes have faded some lately, but he’s still one of the hotter young properties out there. He never quite makes the grade as SSgt. Eversmann in my opinion. He doesn’t have the charisma to carry larger films such as this or that abomination Pearl Harbor.
On the flipside, the film does showcase Sam Shepard who may be the coolest guy ever.
In the end we have a film that is spotty, but still very enjoyable. A lesser director would have failed miserably. Luckily for us Ridley Scott is one of the living masters and gives us plenty of eye candy to fill in gaping holes in the script.