Black Hawk Down – 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Steelbook Review

Mark Pacis

Black Hawk Down

Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down is a visceral and unflinching portrayal of the harrowing events surrounding the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993. Adapted from Mark Bowden’s non-fiction book, the film dives headfirst into the chaos and courage of a mission gone awry, delivering an intense, immersive experience that leaves a lasting impact.

At the heart of Black Hawk Down is its unapologetic commitment to realism. The film captures modern warfare’s raw and gritty nature—portraying the Battle of Mogadishu with unrelenting intensity. The movie is relentless in delivering the challenges faced by American soldiers caught in a hostile urban environment. The seamless blend of practical effects and locations adds a gritty authenticity layer that elevates the film beyond other war dramas.

The ensemble cast, featuring notable actors such as Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, and Eric Bana, delivers powerful performances that breathe life into their respective characters, and the camaraderie among them is palpable. Not to mention, they effectively convey the physical and emotional toll of war. Plus, they’re able to portray the courage and vulnerability of soldiers in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Also, Ridley Scott’s directorial prowess is on full display here with an intense and kinetic cinematography that captures the situation’s urgency. Scott’s decision to shoot much of the film with handheld cameras places the audience inside the chaos. Plus, Hans Zimmer’s score enriches the emotional depth of the narrative, accentuating the human cost of war.

Overall, Black Hawk Down is not merely a war film; it is a tribute to the resilience and sacrifice of those who serve in the military. While the narrative is focused on a specific historical event, its themes of bravery, camaraderie, and the brutal realities of war resonate universally. As the film develops, it becomes clear that Black Hawk Down is not just a movie; it’s an immersive and thought-provoking experience that leaves an indelible mark on the viewer’s psyche.

Movie Review: 4.5/5 atoms

Black Hawk Down - Tom Sizemore and Jason Isaacs

Black Hawk Down hits Ultra HD Blu-ray with a native 4K, HEVC / H.265, Dolby Vision presentation with a 2.38:1 aspect ratio. The video presentation has some exceptional contrast levels. The HDR enhances the brightness of the Ultra HD Blu-ray and brings a new level of clarity to the visuals. Bright scenes are more vivid and realistic, and the increased luminosity contributes to an overall improvement in image quality. At the same time, the black levels are deep and rich. This improvement in black levels contributes to a greater sense of detail and depth, particularly in low-light or nighttime sequences.

The colors are accurate, more vivid, and nuanced, contributing to a visually stunning presentation surpassing standard Blu-ray capabilities. Those upgrading from the Blu-ray can appreciate finer textures, intricate patterns, and facial details with remarkable precision. This improvement is particularly noticeable in close-up shots and scenes with complex environments. Black Hawk Down has always had a robust grainy look. Preserving this heavy film grain on the Ultra HD Blu-ray maintains the authenticity of the original cinematic experience. While the higher resolution may make the film grain more apparent, it contributes to a more organic and filmic look.

Video Review: 5/5 atoms

Black Hawk Down - Josh Hartnett

Black Hawk Down hits Blu-ray with a Dolby Atmos or a 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio presentation if Atmos is not supported. This review will cover the Blu-ray’s Dolby Atmos mix. Black Hawk Down‘s Dolby Atmos is a high-quality experience. The mix creates a sense of movement and immersion, and the sound effects move seamlessly across the soundstage. Also, the sounds are precisely located in the sound stage and contribute to a heightened sense of realism, particularly during intense combat scenes where the directionality of sound is crucial for immersion.

Whether it’s the thumping of helicopter rotors or the immersive sounds of a battlefield, the overhead and atmospheric effects are distinct and add a layer of realism that enhances the spatial audio experience. The musical score is delivered with exceptional clarity and fidelity. The dynamic range allows for a more nuanced and impactful musical experience. Despite the chaos, the dialogue in this mix is clear, intelligible, and well-balanced. Not to mention, the low-frequency effects are effectively utilized to deliver powerful bass in the subwoofer. 

Audio Review: 5/5 atoms

Black Hawk Down - Ewan McGregor
Special Features

Black Hawk Down has no bonus features on the Ultra HD disc. However, the following bonus features can be found on the Bonus Features Blu-ray disc:

HD Movie Disc
  • Commentaries
    • Author Mark Bowden and Screenwriter Ken Nolan
    • Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Director Ridley Scott
    • U.S. Special Forces Veterans ’93
  • The Essence of Combat: Making Black Hawk Down
Bonus Disc
  • Black Hawk Down: On the Set
  • The History Channel: The True Story of Black Hawk Down
  • Frontline: Ambush in Mogadishu
  • Question & Answer Forums
    • BAFTA
    • Editor’s Guild
    • American Cinematheque
  • “Target Building Insertion” (6 Angles) with Commentary
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes with Director Commentary
    • Opening
    • Downtime
    • Ping Pong Injury
    • Snafu
    • Triage & O.R.
    • Night Moves
    • Taking Stock
    • Alternate Ending
  • Music Video: Denez Prigent & Lisa Gerrard: Gortoz a Ran – J’ Attends
  • Image & Design
    • Designing Mogadishu
    • Ridleygrams with Commentary
    • Jerry Bruckheimer’s On-Set Photography
    • Invisible Design/Title Exploration with Commentary
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Original TV Spots
  • Photo Galleries
    • Production Photos
    • Production Design
    • Poster Explorations
Features Assessment

On top of the addition of both the theatrical and extended cuts of Black Hawk Down, the Ultra HD release of the film comes with a bevy of previously released bonus features all in one package. In the HD version of the movie, the disc sports a trio of audio commentaries and the comprehensive 6-part making-of featurette, “The Essence of Combat.”

The Bonus Disc contains some of the best features in this release. Arguably, the best ones in the Bonus Disc come from the real-life story of this moment in history. One is the hour-and-a-half History Channel episode, “The History Channel: The True Story of Black Hawk Down,” and the other is the 55-minute PBS documentary, “Frontline: Ambush in Mogadishu.” Those documentaries are must-see. All in all, this release of Black Hawk Down is the ultimate package in a sleek-looking steelbook case.

Black Hawk Down (Steelbook)

Special Features Review: 5/5 atoms

Overall, Black Hawk Down still stands as one of the best modern-day war films ever made. Now, it also features an incredible video and audio upgrade, plus a bevy of fantastic featurettes that provide a deeper understanding of the film’s production and the real-life events that inspired it.

Overall Review: 5/5 atoms

Black Hawk Down is now available in stores on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.

This Blu-ray was provided by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for review purposes.