Behind Enemy Lines

Behind Enemy Lines


Reviewed by: Gator MacReady

Chase movies can either be consistently entertaining (Judgment Night) or long, drawn-out, tedious affairs (The Fugitive). Behind Enemy Lines manages to promote excitement from every scene it wants to and even makes Owen Wilson a hero without glamorising him as an indestructible, muscle-bound hunk. How refreshingly new.

Chris Burnett (Wilson) is a Navy pilot who has grown weary of sitting on a dull ship in foreign seas and getting no real action. He is two weeks away from leaving because of sheer boredom, but on Christmas day he and his flying partner Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht) are called to duty. Their mission is to survey an area of forest on the Bosnian border. But they decide to stray a little off course and end up getting shot down by the scary and evil bad guys, Bosnian Serbs.

Copy picture

Their plane disintegrates into a gillion pieces, but they eject in time. Stackhouse is injured, so Wilson goes off to find help. But the Serbs are onto to him like flies onto a pile of manure. They execute him just to show how nasty they are and Wilson flees from an onslaught of bullets as the dirt explodes around his feet. The chase leads him through mountains, forests, graves and the ashes of smouldering cities.

Hackman plays Admiral Leslie Reigart, the man in charge of finding Wilson and he goes through the usual rigmarole of overcoming bureaucracy and disobeying orders to do so. It's all standard stuff, but Hackman makes it watchable, even if the character is a photocopy of Captain Frank Ramsey from Crimson Tide. This, combined with the fresh-faced Wilson, makes an interesting combo.

Wilson has made a name for himself, playing the loveable dimwit in movies such as Meet The Parents and Shanghai Noon, and casting him to play a different kind of hero is perfect.

Action scenes of note are the targeting and crash of the Navy jet and a cool one in which Wilson trips and falls through a minefield. He even hides in a mass grave full of decaying corpses to evade capture. It's fun to watch though.

First-time director John Moore doesn't inject a lot of what would be his own personal style. Instead, he nicks from Sam Raimi, Michael Bay and even Spielberg's shaking war camera from Saving Private Ryan. But it matters not, because it still makes for an entertaining movie and it seems realistic enough, although the patchy style does conflict with itself. Moore has as many glossy touches as he has attempts at making the film look as rugged as possible. The rough Bosnian territory takes its toll on Wilson, but there are moments of pointless flashiness - 40 cuts in a second, and so on - which adds confusion to an otherwise realistic looking movie.

The bleak, washed-out palette will make you feel the same chilly cold that Wilson feels. Grey is the most abundant colour and miserable the look on the Serbs' faces.

Wouldn't YOU hide in a grave of rotting bodies to be rescued?

Reviewed on: 09 Jan 2002
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Owen Wilson is shot down in Bosnian Serb territory and Gene Hackman tries to rescue him.
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Director: John Moore

Writer: David Veloz, Zak Penn, Jim Thomas, John Thomas

Starring: Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, Gabriel Macht, Charles Malik Whitfield, David Keith, Olek Krupa, Joaquim de Almeida, Vladimir Mashkov, Marko Igonda, Eyal Podell, Geoffrey Pierson

Year: 2001

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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