tragic events of September 11th still etched in the nations
mind, and with the conflict in Afghanistan continuing, patriotism
in America is at an all time high. While national pride is
a great thing at in times like this I am proud to see how
our nation has come together to confront a national tragedy
and threat to the world, the sad thing is that there are those
who would seek to exploit this tragedy for their own personal
gains. I recently heard of a person in New Jersey who was
collecting for the fireman's fund only to be a scam artist
who was pocketing the donations. It is sad to note that in
a time when Hollywood is saying publicly that they will be
cutting down on violent content, and shelving films with sensitive
subject matter that some films are released to cash in on
a topical subject.
the new film "Behind Enemy Lines" falls into this
category. I learned that the film 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
them film quickly in order to take advantage of the patriotic
surge in this country.
stars Owen Wilson as Lt. Chris Burnett as a top naval navigator
who has grown frustrated with his role. Burnett is stationed
aboard the carrier Carl Vinsons and is upset that the political
climate does not allow him to fly combat missions in Bosnia,
as he believes that the American forces are being a police
force rather than a combat force and should have a more active
role. After seven years in the service, Burnett has decided
that he has had enough and plans to return to civilian life
after his tour ends in two weeks time.
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.
later learns that he is assigned to fly a reconnaissance mission
on Christmas Day and is convinced that the Admiral assigned
him this role out of spite. Nonetheless, Burnett is happy
to be in the air and launches on his mission. It is while
on this mission that Burnett encounters something he did not
expect and takes aerial photographs of a sensitive and damaging
nature to the fragile peace process of the region. Before
he can make sense of what he has seen, Burnett is shot down
and forced to survive behind enemy lines with a team of soldiers
and a deadly tracker hot on his heels determined to silence
him at any costs.
have been a tense game of cat and mouse combined with political
intrigue and director John Moore in favor of an MTV quick
cutting style that is difficult to watch quickly abandons
character development. There are numerous shots of Burnett
running, jumping, and fleeing for his life, some with Matrix
style stop motion effects, but 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.
We know next to nothing about his character motivations and
why he takes the actions that he does in the films closing
moments. The same can be said for Wilson who makes a game
effort in the physical parts, but he is given little material
to work with and as a result audiences will have a hard time
accepting him a role such as this that is different from his
usual comedic roles.
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
explained and they should all have had "generic bad guys"
stamped on their foreheads, as they could not have been more
the previous was not bad enough, many scenes of the film have
a jerky quality to them as if they were shot with a hand held
camera. Even a film such as "The Blair Witch Project"
had hand held shots that were much easier to follow, and this
was done with a budget significantly less than "Behind
Enemy Lines". I love a good action film as much as the
next person and I do not expect a top notch story, acting,
or originality in this genre, but this film was so uninspired
and bad, it is difficult to find anything positive to say
about it. I have to wonder how an actor as accomplished and
talented as Gene Hackman allowed himself to be drawn into
this mess of a film. 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
I mentioned previously suggest that this film was rushed to
theaters when it could have, with some better editing and
a few reshoots been a much better film. Sadly, it seems that
the people behind this film saw a quick buck over quality
and gave audiences a turkey.
out of 5
offers some nice features such as bonus scenes and commentaries,
but sadly it is not enough to redeem what could have been
a good movie.