Perhaps it was Jerry Bruckheimer--he of the Armageddon and Pearl Harbor pedigree--breathing heavily down Ridley Scott's back: "Let's do a quick run-through to establish all the characters we want 'em to cry for when they buy the farm--and get to the shootin' and the blowed-up stuff post-haste." And so it came to pass that Scott swept the obligatory build-up aside with quick dispatch and gave the audiences an extended version of the first twenty minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Meanwhile, the best-realized character in the entire film, Sam Shepard's general whatshisname, is the only one who resonates. Perhaps the real star of this movie is each and every little bullit zinging around the viewer in 5.1-channel glory. And the explosions. Scott's hot/cold/hot/cold roller-coaster variability as a movie-maker lands him squarely at the medium-warm setting with Black Hawk Down. A flick such as this would have been unthinkable in the less-military-friendly 1970s, but in this era it pushes all the correct buttons. Patriotism triumphs bigtime at the box office. Not really a "great" movie by any stretch, Black Hawk Down makes for a fun thrill ride of a guilty pleasure, lacking as it does the maudlin pretense of Saving Private Ryan. Besides, the camera work comes across beautifully in the DVD transfer. But aren't people starting to tire of push-button moviemaking?