Behind Enemy Lines

And That's Not A Good Place To Be

"...and CRIPES! They broke my nose!"

Owen Wilson stars as a Navy pilot navigator who, along with the pilot, is making a routine round when Wilson notices something unusual pop up on the radar. Despite the fact that flying where the unusual activity seems to be occurring (in Bosnia-Herzegovina) is more or less off-limits, they do so anyway just to "test the shiny new digital camera." Well, this seemingly harmless fun is quickly turned on its head when two missiles are shot at them which takes the plane down. Through some miraculous event, the pilot and navigator are able to safely eject out of the airplane and land upon the ground. However, the pilot is injured. Noting that the radio does not work where these two individuals are sitting, Wilson briefly abandons the pilot to head for higher ground to radio headquarters. However, once Wilson is partway up a hill, about one hundred men and a dozen tanks approach the injured pilot. While Wilson watches with binoculars, the pilot is murdered. Wilson makes the mistake of yelling "Noooooooo!" and a bazillion bullets are shot in his vicinity. He miraculously escapes the bullets. A particularly evil fellow, played by Vladimir Mashkov, dedicates himself to kill Wilson, so the chase is on. Owen Wilson runs a lot and every once in a while, he is able to radio headquarters, which is located on a ship where Admiral Riegert, played by Gene Hackman, attempts a rescue. However, a NATO official won't allow it because it may trigger war. Can Wilson make it to safety?

This usually icky action fest is partly redeemable for Gene Hackman's nice performance and good action scenes. Some of the action had my heart racing and the chase itself was rather exciting. However, it was all cheaply done. The fact that Wilson makes it alive past the demise of the airplane AND the bazillion bullets is nothing less than amazing, save what he gets away with later in the film!

This packs nothing of the wallop as the similar film, "The Fugitive (1993)." Even though "The Fugitive" wasn't very believable either, you have to admit that the thrills were not cheap. "The Fugitive" has an unlikely premise, but the occurrences within the film are believable. (Harrison Ford escaping from a bus, jumping a vast distance into a river, finding the guy with the fake arm, etc.) Harrison Ford was able to get away with quite a lot in "The Fugitive" because he didn't have desperate, shoot-to-kill Serbs on his tail.

It's the little things that make "Behind Enemy Lines" fail; Wilson simply lucks out too many times.

The climax is poorly done as well except for the noise and gunfire, and I detest the cheesy ending. (Holy cow, was that cheesy!) There are also awkward bits of humor within this film. After the plane crashes and Wilson finds the pilot, they begin to joke around. Their conversation at that point has little to do with "WHAT THE @$%# WAS THAT!" but instead, it had to do with, "Boy, do YOU look awful!" Fortunately, there is only one other moment where this awkward humor is present (while Wilson is on the run and starts joking with Hackman on the radio.)

The performance from Owen Wilson was adequate. Based on his performance in this film, I don't suspect that Wilson has much hope of becoming a great action star. His field is comedy, he's good at it, and ought to stick with it. Gene Hackman, however, gives a very nice performance as the grumpy Admiral. While Hackman certainly isnít perfect, it does manage to greatly overshadow the supporting cast!

I dislike the busy camera movement as well, even though it is the devise that makes this film eye-dazzling.


Overall, good action, but it revolves around a plot that is too incredible and the ending is poorly done. An adequate performance from Owen Wilson; he is not much of an action star. However Gene Hackman's performance as the Admiral saved the day.

Movie reviewed by Michael Lawrence



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

Directed by:

John Moore


2001 action

Rated PG-13.


Don Ignacio's score: C-

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