Behind Enemy Lines (DVD)

Starring Gabriel Macht et al

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R 47

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FPB certification number
Number of Discs
TV System
South Africa
  1. 2
Running Time
FPB Consumer Advice
FPB Rating
  1. John Moore
Behind Enemy Lines (DVD)
  1. Gabriel Macht
  2. Gene Hackman
  3. Owen Wilson
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In some ways Behind Enemy Lines could almost have been the prequel to The Last Castle that also began this past weekend. The only difference being in Behind Enemy Lines that Adm. Reigart (Gene Hackman) gets assigned to a administrative post for his disobedience of a direct order, whereas Robert Redford gets sent to the castle to serve prison time.

Behind Enemy Lines is very loose based on the real life events that took place when an American pilot was shot down over Bosnia. But Behind Enemy Lines should not be confused with reality, as our hero navigator Lt. Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) tries to evade capture by the Serbian army when he and his pilot get shot down during a reconnaissance mission over Bosnia.

The aerial sequences as the F18 Hornet tries to avoid two surface to air missiles on its tail are really amazing and tense. The movie director (John Moore XVI) previous work included making commercials for the computer games company Sega. His previous work on game commercials does spill over in Behind Enemy Lines giving it an arcade game type feel to the movie. Tracers whip past our fleeing super hero, he is caught in the middle of multiple mine explosions, he travels for many miles on end up and down hill tops with no food and very little need for water and rest it would seem.

Some parts of the movie work on a plain action movie type scale, and the main baddie, the tracker, is very menacing as his tracks his prey through the harsh winter landscape. In in all though the movie seemed to lack something for me. Perhaps it is the excessive use of very jittery steady cam shots, that made Behind Enemy Lines seem like a very intoxicated episode of Homicide or ER, where the camera had too much to drink.

Still I like Owen Wilson normally, he was very good in Shanghai Noon, but in this movie he came across as somewhat stilted. Gene Hackman is also a shadow of his kick ass I-Am-The-Leader role he normally plays so well. A look at Crimson Tide where he was a real mean SOB differs vastly from the wimpy role he plays here, and then he is also supposed the Admiral in charge of the battle group!

Special effects and sound effects wise it will be worthwhile watching it in DVD one day, but this is not a good movie.

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

John Moore's BEHIND ENEMY LINES is a wonderfully patriotic picture about the extraction of an American pilot shot down in a war zone in Bosnia. A very timely movie, it features some of the best aerial combat footage ever filmed. With just one plane and two missiles chasing it, Moore fashions an early sequence that will take your breath away and put chills up and down your spine.

In a career making role, Owen Wilson (SHANGHAI NOON) moves from a comedy to an action hero as everyman Navy co-pilot Lieutenant Chris Burnett. Wilson's wonderful work might be thought of as Jimmy Stewart channeling Bruce Willis. The movie is a cat-and-mouse game as Burnett tries to elude capture by troops wanting to kill him on the spot in order to cover up atrocities that he accidentally filmed. Meanwhile, back on the aircraft carrier, Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman) tries his best to get a rescue mission out to find Burnett and bring him back.

The retrieval mission is made nearly impossible by the political situation that Reigart is forced to deal with. In order not to disturb the tenuous and questionable peace on the ground, he keeps getting ordered and tricked into abandoning the extraction attempt. Although Wilson's terrific performance steals the show, Hackman does a masterful turn with a tricky role. When you want him to ignore orders, he is forced to chafe silently under them. Several times you get so involved in the story that you want desperately to yell out suggestions, as well as cheer the successes.

Okay, so the movie isn't perfect. There are some times when suspension of disbelief is required, but real war is messy and unpredictable, so what seems unlikely to us could well happen on the ground. And, if you're the sort who feels kind of uncomfortable with all the flags flying in your neighborhood, this probably isn't the picture for you.

The high energy cinematography features heavy use of handhelds and jump cuts, which are perfect for the combat sequences. The result is an exhilarating and thoroughly satisfying motion picture that raise great questions: Under what circumstances, if any, should we relinquish control of our military forces to our so-called allies? Should we be involved in police actions in which our objectives are unclear and our military responses highly limited? Is there ever a time when we should be willing to let our soldiers languish on hostile ground when we have the ability to pick them up? And should we ever let our political objectives get in the way of our military tactics when American soldiers' lives are risked in the process? For a country at war, these are all good questions for us to ponder.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES runs 1:45. It is rated PG-13 for "war violence and some language" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, thought it was easily one of the best pictures of the year and gave it ****. He liked the story, the cinematography and everything about it.

Region details

DVD Region 2

Region 2 - Europe (except Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus), Middle East, Egypt, Japan, South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Greenland, French Overseas departments and territories.

R 47

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