Behind Enemy Lines

Hist. 17B


Starring: Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman

Director: John Moore

Rated: PG-13

Run Times: 105 minutes

Release Date: November 2001

Genres: Action, Suspense, War

Behind Enemy Lines takes place sometime in the mid ‘90s, at around the time when

the different factions engaged in war within the borders of the former Yugoslavia the Bosnians, Serbs, and

Croats had all agreed to a ceasefire brokered by the United States. NATO, under command of European

commanders, were in charge of “keeping the peace” between the various factions while the ceasefire was

implemented. Owen Wilson as U.S. Navy pilot Chris Burnett, a sort of slacker in military camo who doesn’t

feel as if his time guarding the airs of Yugoslavia is worthwhile. Burnett plans on leaving the Navy for a

cushy job in the private sector as soon as his retirement papers to his commander, Admiral Reigart Burnett.

Along with fellow pilot Stackhouse, is shot down by renegade Serbian forces while the two are doing routine

reconnaissance over a DMZ zone in the mountains. Apparently the duo had photographed the Serbs doing

something naughty, they don’t want exposed. Both pilots survive the crash, but Stackhouse is located by

the Serbs and executed,and now Burnett is alone, cold, and on the run. The movie has special effects like

U.S. jets maneuvers to elude two surface to air missles and the characters ejection from the damaged

plane. Another concern an elaborate series of explosions in an area boodytrapped with mines. As stunning

as the visual effects are at times, they ultimately fail, for we never worry that the invincible Burnett will be

injured. Nothing can stop this guy. He’s like a superhero mail carrier. Neither mines, nor machines guns nor


tanks can stay this Navy man from his appointed mission.

Sadly, the new film “Behind Enemy Lines” was scheduled to be released in a few months time, but thanks

to patriotic inspired responses from test audiences, the powers that be decided to release the film quickly in

order to take advantage of the patriotic surge in this country. The news that Burnett is unhappy and plans

to leave the Navy does not sit well with the commanding officer, Admiral Reigart, (Gene Hackman) who

chastises Burnett for not learning what being a soldier is all about. There are numerous shots of Burnett

running, jumping, and fleeing for his life, some with Matrix style stop motion effects, buy they are poorly

setup and executed in such a way that there is no tension nor excitement for the audience. Worse yet, a

solid and veteran actor like Hackman is reduced to a few gruff lines, and very little substance. To make

matters even worse, the bad guys are little more than cartoon villains as there actions are very unclear. We

know they want Burnett dead as they want to recover his photographs and silence him. However, the

reasons behind what they did are never clearly esplained and they should all have had generic bad guys

stamped on their foreheads, as they could not have been more uninspired. There are some films that have

so little to offer that they should have never been released and the bad editing of this film combined with the

numerous problems. This film was rushed to theaters when it could have, with some better editing and a

few reshoots been a much better film.

Theres very little story to speak off. Pilot sees something hes not supposed to see, gets shot down, and

now pilot runs, runs, and runs. Sometimes Moore loses track of where Owens Burnett is supposed to be,

and the character will seemingly jump from location to location without explanation. Burnett will be racing

through a dense wood and the next hes on a dam somewhere. Confusing. Behind Enemy Lines is not a

deep movie, and its certainly not a history lesson about the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia. For a better

understanding of how people fought the war and the absurdity of it all, I recommend the satirical No Mans