Prior to "Black Hawk Down", "Apocalypse Down" was hands down my favorite non-World War II war movie. Time and distance works wonders, and Ridley Scott proves he can film modern combat, like sci-fi ("Alien") with the best of them.
This is a post Private Ryan film, which means that the street combat scenes are jumpy, erratic, and extremely violent. But like Spielberg, Scott does not lose sight of character development, particularly Harnett's character who becomes marooned with his "stick" of Rangers overnight in the centre of Mogadishu surrounded by thousands of screeming, RPG-toting Somalis who can use cell phones to mobilize and direct their forces. The movie builds like "Alien", to the point where it becomes incomprehensible that anyone is going to get out alive. The movie does not take sides when commanders sacrifice four or five soldiers to save one - it just happens.
Some reviewers have referred to the book as a "novel" - it is not. This battle really happened, but once we left Somalia (or were pushed out, depending on your point of view) it got quietly shunted aside as a bad sideshow until Mark Bowden wrote his book of the same title, which is a MUST read for people who loved the movie (it goes into greater detail of the Ranger culture and background politics). Lots of lessons abound for our current escapade into Mesopotamia.
Sizemore, who is also in "Private Ryan", is by leaps and bounds the best hard-nosed NCO anywhere. Ewan McGregor, who has had to suffer through Lucas' recent disasters, gets to demonstrate his versatility. Harnett is terrific.
No review should pass up the incredible sound, which demands a 5.1 system and heavy on the subwoofer. The soundtrack (with the exception of the vaguely Celtic ooh-ahhs at the end) is the best I recall of any war movie.