Simply put, the greatest combat movie ever filmed. Black Hawk Down, director Ridley Scott’s uncompromising vision of urban warfare, set the standard early in the decade (2001) and has been constantly imitated ever since. Scott, along with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, made sure to stick to the core of Mark Bowden’s riveting novel, and in doing so, created one of the most visceral pieces of action filmmaking ever constructed. It’s a physically exhausting movie to sit through, harrowing all throughout, with a constant sense of dread and impending violence. With stunning spatial clarity and obsessive technical finesse, Scott and cinematographer Slawomir Idziak created a gorgeous yet brutal film that pummeled the audience with a sense of sustained cinematic intensity that few other films have rivaled. I saw this film 10 times theatrically, a personal record for one movie. Granted, I saw it 5 nights in a row at my college campus theater (for free), but for me, this is one of the most exciting, most intensely realized portraits of warfare that’s ever been created. I have had a fascination with war for years, and it’s always interested me how Hollywood has interpreted war throughout the years. Black Hawk Down is a benchmark in the genre. And it’s a film that tells a true story of heroism without bowing the cheap, obvious, and overly sentimental clichés. Kathryn Bigelow’s recent film, The Hurt Locker, is the one other war film from this decade that deserves to sit along side Scott’s masterpiece.