Black Hawk Down

Violent depiction of a risky rescue; adults only.
  • Review Date: November 10, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2002
  • Running Time: 144 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The film does show valiant attempts by Special Forces troops to rescue their trapped comrades, but it does not really investigate the causes of the conflict. It also avoids dealing with the number of Somalis that were killed in the maneuver. This may complicate the portrayals of both the Americans and the militia.


EXTREMELY graphic deaths of soldiers (dismemberment, beatings, impaling, etc.). Killing of civilians, starvation, the killing and roasting of a wild boar.

Not applicable

Swearing by soldiers (but actually less than one might expect).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this film is extremely violent. If parents do allow their teens to watch, they should be aware that the sad and often violent scenes are traumatic. While it does not include as much foul language as often found in contemporary war films, the violence is extremely graphic and non-stop. American soldiers are bloodily and graphically killed from the beginning until the end. This film is in no way recommended for kids under seventeen.

What's the story?

In the early 1990s a humanitarian crisis in the country of Somalia brought international attention to the region. On October 3, 1993 the United States military sent approximately 120 members of US Special Forces to capture the warlord General Aidid or any of his top lieutenants. This supposedly quick operation turned into a two-day frantic mission and withdrawal. BLACK HAWK DOWN depicts the costly rescue attempt by US Rangers and Delta Operators sent to retrieve men trapped when their black hawk helicopters were downed. Trapped in a Somali war-zone, the soldiers struggle to regroup, save their wounded, and avoid the sights of a frenzied and armed militia. Through hostile fire, already injured men re-enter the war-zone in a valiant attempt to "leave no man behind."

Is it any good?


Directed by Ridley Scott (Alien, Thelma and Louise, Gladiator), BLACK HAWK DOWN is a fast-paced trip through blood and guts. Scott's desire for realism comes through in the film's connections to the real US Rangers. Many of the pilots used in the film participated in the actual 1993 conflict. The film does a fine job of creating viewer sympathy for its characters.

Although the action scenes truly serve as the leading lady, the film uses recognizable celebrities to create identification with their characters. Josh Hartnett (Halloween H20, Pearl Harbor), Ewan McGregor (Star Wars: Episodes I-III, Moulin Rouge), and Tom Sizemore (Heart and Souls, Saving Private Ryan) provide known faces to a few men caught in the chaos. The film was rewarded for its dramatic battle scenes with Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Editing.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about issues regarding life, death, war, and honor. Why did the soldiers return to the ground to continue fighting? Do you think it was right to send soldiers there in the first place? How may this conflict relate to ones in the present? Parents may also want to discuss this film's historical accuracy by comparing it against a documentary that covers the same events.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 2002
DVD release date:June 11, 2002
Cast:Ewan McGregor, Josh Hartnett, Tom Sizemore
Director:Ridley Scott
Studio:Sony Pictures
Run time:144 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:intense, realistic, graphic war violence, and for language

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Written byAnonymous September 25, 2014
age 15+

Black Hawk Down review

========================================================= A person states that it's a good thing a man with an injured hand is right-handed (a masturbation reference). A person then states he doesn't know what he'd do (while making a male masturbation gesture). We briefly see a pinup/poster of a shapely woman in a small bikini. 1.5/10. ========================================================= Violence: Some people push or hit others with sticks to get to some food. A local man then shoots and kills various people with his machine gun. Men open fire on a vehicle, blowing out the engine, and do so to abduct one man. Some people are shot by machine gun fire. A gun battle breaks out between the locals and the American military forces, while a local shoots a missile at a chopper that moves out of the way just in time. A man falls a great distance from a helicopter and lands quite hard on the ground below, severely injuring him. More gunfire takes place between the opposing sides. A missile is fired and explodes. Many men are shot on top of a building and wounded/killed. A person is hit by something and blown apart. A missile hits the back rotor of a chopper, sending it out of control. It then crashes, resulting in some property damage, injuries, and deaths to those onboard. More locals open fire on the military men who return fire, and many people are shot and wounded/killed. Locals open fire on the survivor of a downed helicopter. A man's finger is blown off his hand (with bloody results). A young local boy accidentally shoots and kills what may be his father. Things blow up when hit by the output of a grenade launcher or something similar. A person finds a severed hand, while we see another man who's still alive, but the bottom half of him is gone (with very bloody/gory looking wounds to his body). Many more gun battles take place, with people being shot and wounded or killed. More people are shot and wounded/killed. Enemy fire hits another chopper, causing it to crash as well. More people are shot and killed. Shrapnel hits a person and a lot of blood squirts out. A rocket goes through a person's body. Many more people are shot in more scenes. Downed chopper pilots/passengers repeatedly shoot more locals who keep approaching and firing upon them. One of them is then shot in the head. The one lone soldier then shoots as many locals as he can before being shot several times and killed (with more bloody results). Locals beat up a captured American, hitting him on the head with their guns and dragging him out of his hiding place, but are stopped by an authority figure before they kill him (so that they'll have a prisoner). More people are shot (and wounded or killed) in another gun battle. The locals fire artillery on the American soldiers, who eventually capture and turn the weapon on them, killing many of them. Soldiers slit some of the enemy's throats. More locals are shot and killed on rooftops. The remains of a helicopter are purposefully blown up. Various locals fire upon American men who are on foot and trying to leave the city. A man carries a dead child who's bloody. 10/10. ========================================================= Blood/Gore: A man finds a body and we then see that he has it wrapped in a sheet, and we then see more dead bodies. Some blood squirts out when people are shot by machine gun fire. We see blood coming from an injured man's nose and ear. A person is hit by something and blown apart. People who are shot are bloody. Those in a crashed helicopter are bloody. A man's finger is blown off his hand (with bloody results). We see a person with a very bloody neck wound, while various dead people are also rather bloody. More people are bloody after being shot or hit by explosions. A person finds a severed hand, while we see another man who's still alive, but the bottom half of him is gone (with very bloody/gory looking wounds to his body). More wounded and dead people are bloody. Shrapnel hits a person and a lot of blood squirts out. A man's face is incredibly bloody. More people who are shot are bloody. An injured man is hit on the head several times and is bloody. A man's leg wound is very bloody and blood then squirts out as others try to work on him. As they try to clamp the artery to prevent the massive bleeding, we see the extremely bloody and graphic wound that they work in and on. Another man has a very bloody mouth. A man carries a dead child who's bloody. A man vomits. A great deal of blood flows onto the floor of a surgical facility. 9/10. ========================================================= Profanity: At least 37 "f" words (with another character seen mouthing that word with the prefix "mother"), 23 "s" words, 9 asses (2 used with "hole"), 8 hells, 3 damns, 3 S.O.B.'s, and 7 uses of "G-damn," 2 uses each of "Oh my God," and "God," and 1 use each of "Christ," "Jesus," "Jesus Christ" and "Swear to God" as exclamations. 8/10. ========================================================= Alcohol/Drugs: When one soldier sees another filling his canteen with water, he jokingly tells him he might as well take "dope and beer." 0/10. ========================================================= Smoking: Garrison (cigars) and McKnight each smoke a few times, while Grimes smokes once, and various miscellaneous characters also smoke (one smokes cigars several times). 3/10. ========================================================= Black Hawk Down is one of my favourite war films. It really shows you what soldiers have to go through; hell. I give it a 9/10. =========================================================
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old February 9, 2015
age 15+

Black Hawk Down

Despite being 11 i think this is inappropriate for children under the age 15. It has lots of violence and some shocking scenes which are shown for not long. Some parts i could not watch. I did enjoy this film i found it exciting but a bit much on the violence. It did have some swearing but apart from that it was a very good and fun film which i found cool.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Adult Written byD-Fresh August 26, 2010
age 15+

Quite possibly the best war movie ever made

"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." - Winston Churchill. Watch this movie and be thankful for those willing to put their life on the line for our freedom. This movie avoids dealing with the number of Somalis who die? I quote from the text that appears at the end of the movie: "1000 Somalis died and 19 Americans lost their lives in the conflict" The superb acting, amazing special effects, and true story combine to make one the greatest movies ever made.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written by9001 April 9, 2010
age 17+

Wonderful movie, but extraordinarily graphic, intensely violent, and disturbing. Adults only 18+.

I watched this movie, and it was great, but very, very intense. Throughout the first part of the movie it didn't have a lot of graphic content, but it was still very intense. Later on in the movie, the amount of graphic and disturbing content increased and increased. Overall, I rate this movie Off for ages 17 and under, Iffy for ages 18-19, and On for ages 19+. Please read below for additional details. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Violence (5/5): There are extremely graphic and intense depictions of war violence and combat throughout the movie. There are two instances where you see a soldier was cut in half, and his guts are dangling down where his legs should be. In one scene, a soldier gets shot in the leg, and he is carried screaming in agony into a building, and later they have to operate on a vein that got stuck in his muscle to stop the bleeding, and the patient passes out from the pain. Throughout most of the movie (other than around the first 30 or so minutes) there is practically constant gunfire and combat, and a lot of explosions. In one scene, a window explodes in a man's face when he is driving an armored vehicle, and he starts crying and screaming in agony while he continues to drive the car. In one scene, there is a very bloody, graphic, explicit depiction of a man being gored by a rocket. A kid on the enemy side accidentally shoots one of his own people, an old woman. Tons of people are shot. The violence goes beyond the scale of 5/5. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Language (5/5): There is very strong, but not constant, language throughout the movie. The F word is used a lot, as are other words, usually s--t, or a--. In one scene, a soldier briefly makes an obscene hand gesture with his middle finger. Other words used are da-- and h---. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sex (2/5): Very brief sexual content. In one scene, a poster with a woman in a bra posing sexually is shown off to the side of the screen. In another scene, a man makes a gesture with his hand that indicates m*******tion. It could also be interpreted as a g** h****ob. The reason I only rate the severity of the sexual content 2/5 is because children most likely would not understand the sexual hand gesture. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Bad messages (1/5): In one scene, a Simoli soldier tells his prisoner, who is an American pilot, that without war there would be no peace, so people would keep getting killed. This is a bad message, but if you are mature enough to watch the movie you should be mature enough not to let this affect you. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Good messages (2/5): The American soldiers stop at nothing and go out of their way to ensure each others' safety. They care about each other a lot. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Good Role Models (1/5): The American soldiers stop at nothing and go out of their way to ensure each others' safety. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Restatement of my rating: I rate this movie Off for ages 17 and under, Iffy for ages 18-19, and On for ages 19+.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models


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