Anthony Leong, Media Circus:
Performance-wise, the cast is top-notch...
Shepard is the film's convincing 'villain', the
ineffective commanding officer who can only sit in the
command center and watch as his poor judgement takes its
toll on his troops. With its talented cast, polished
production, and Scott's fast-paced direction, "Black
Hawk Down" is a gritty, violent, and ugly look at the
soldier's experience in war, one that is not easily
forgotten after one leaves the theater.
Philip Wuntch, The Dallas Morning
Sam Shepard brings his poetic presence to the role
of sorrowful Maj. Gen. William F. Garrison... Hans
Zimmer creates a score that is beautiful, dolorous, and
unobtrusive. Cinematographer Slawomir Idziak, whose work
may also be seen in the current revival of Krzysztof
Kieslowski's Decalogue, helps create staggering visuals
that, like Mr. Zimmer's music, become integral to Mr.
Scott's pattern. "Black Hawk Down" is a purely cinematic
experience, as unified in its purpose as the actual
attack was fragmented.
Mike Clark, USA Today:
If ever there were a story in which logistics should
dominate, this is it — and besides, smart casting fills
in the personality gaps. It's clear the movie is going
to have all the human element it needs when we see that
commanding Gen. William F. Garrison is played by Sam
Shepard, who could have been a superstar in
Hollywood's golden age of screen heroes.
Henry Sheehan, Orange County
Many characters emerge with terrific engagement.
William Fichtner projects a peculiarly modern sense of
professionalism as Delta Sgt. Sanderson, issuing orders
through pursed lips as he tries to impose order in the
midst of deadly chaos. The best, though, may be
Shepard as Garrison, a commander who has to make
tough decisions without recourse to dramatic expression.
Scott Mantz, The Media Drome:
"Black Hawk Down" is more about the combat than it is
about the characters, yet there are still some
incredible performances to be found. Josh Hartnett
redeems a decent performance as the idealistic Sgt. Matt
Eversmann. In addition, Tom Sizemore gives a powerful,
commanding performance as Lt. Col. Danny McKnight, while
Sam Shepard desperately tries to keep his cool as
the Major General who must watch helplessly as the
mission falls apart.
William Arnold, Seattle
"Black Hawk Down" is a terrific "trip" movie that -
like "Private Ryan" - plops us right in the middle of a
harrowing combat situation, and forces us to
"experience" it for ourselves, as if we were one of the
jangled participants. By the end we feel traumatized and
defeated, and yet strangely uplifted for having survived
Scott A. May, Columbia Daily
A marvel of style, execution and true-life drama, "Black
Hawk Down" is Scott's most accomplished work to date
and, without doubt, the best close combat film ever
George Meyer, Sarasota Herald
Scott Ridley's take on this genre makes every bit as
much of an impression as his others. Bypassing many of
the easy answers to dramatizing this event, Scott
plunges viewers into the belly of the beast itself, then
rescues them a bit at a time. It's a director's movie;
and a thrilling, tense and action-packed movie it is...
Maj. Gen. William Garrison is laconically played by
Sam Shepard, at the top of his form.
Chris Gladden, Roanoke Times:
Scott applies his considerable talents to modern warfare
in "Black Hawk Down." The result is as gripping and
harrowing as the Mark Bowden book that is the source of
the movie... Sam Shepard plays Gen. William
Garrison, who has to direct the operation from a command
center through video camera. Shepard has aged into a
picture of quintessential American conscientiousness.
Sasha Stone, CineScene:
Much credit must be given to Scott's team, chief
among them his cinematographer, Slawomir Idziak, who
comes at the action fiercely and unflinchingly. Hans
Zimmer's score is the best of the year, hands down...
The actors take it to heights unknown, especially Josh
Hartnett, who reinvents himself by scraping off the
Pearl Harbor mud. Sam Shepard is pitch-perfect as
Major General William Garrison, who took full
responsibility for the tragedy in Mogadishu.
Jeff Vice, Deseret News:
The huge international cast (which includes several
Brits and Australian actors playing Americans) is
excellent. Hartnett gets the most screen time — though
Aussie actor Eric Bana makes a serious bid to steal the
film as a tough-as-nails Special Forces sharpshooter...
Sam Shepard is solid as usual.
Robin Clifford, Reeling Reviews:
Sam Shepard, as Major General William F.
Garrison, the man who masterminded the original attack,
has the tough job of being out of the action, helpless
to change the course of events, but responsible for the
lives of the men he sent into harm's way. Shepard does a
solid job of putting a human face on his character.
Gabriel Shanks, Mixed Reviews:
"Black Hawk Down" captures the tenuous balance
between war’s dueling perspectives: the intimate, human
experience of the individual soldier, and the larger
expansive canvas of warfare…a balance that many other
films in the genre have struggled with. Rarely have the
results been so clear, so expressive, and so
devastating... The cast, for their part, deserves
credit, too; it’s populated with an appetizing mix of
seasoned professionals and fresh new faces, all working
together seamlessly. Maj. Gen. William Garrison, who
devised and led the raid upon Mogadishu’s inner city, is
played with crusty warmth by Sam Shepard; his
measured cadence is a perfect choice.
Desson Thomson, Washington Post:
Aesthetically, you're in heaven, thanks to Slawomir
Idziak's exquisite cinematography, Pietro Scalia's
stunning montage and Hans Zimmer's pulsating score.
James Berardinelli, Reel Reviews:
Scott's movie is fast-paced and riveting. The film
will keep the average viewer on the edge of his or her
seat, with eyes fixed on the screen. Cinematographer
Slavomir Idziak makes frequent, effective use of filters
to dampen hues and enhance the "grittiness" of Black
Hawk Down's appearance.
Marc Savlov, Austin Chronicle:
Absolutely harrowing, shocking in its sudden
revelatory immediacy, and very, very well done, Black
Hawk Down is one of the best depictions of the outright
lunacy inherent to battle I have ever seen.
Michael Srogaw, The Baltimore Sun:
What makes the film work is that the audience grows
to see the Americans as one great mass character -
confused, selfless, valiant and riding on adrenaline
waves that can't be separated from their fear... From
Sam Shepard's General Garrison on down, the actors
succeed in reflecting not just the general truth, but
also most of the specifics of the battle.