a critiQal film review Behind Enemy Lines (2001)

Plot: When U.S. Navy pilot Chris Burnett (Wilson) is shot down during a recon mission over Bosnia, he’s hunted by hostile Serbian forces and must fight to stay alive. Burnett’s commanding officer (Hackman) must risk everything by launching a renegade rescue mission - against strict NATO directives - to bring an American hero home.

Reviewed
496 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 28s)
  • ...a good action flick, thanks in part to a surprisingly serious performance from Owen Wilson.

I’d been wanting to see the new film Behind Enemy Lines since it hit theaters, but just hadn’t gotten around to it. The previews made it seem worthwhile, and I wanted to see if Owen Wilson could play a more serious role than the comedies he’s usually in. Finally, I got a chance to check out the film – and hoped it would be as good as I thought it would be.

Owen Wilson does a pretty good job in Behind Enemy Lines in a more demanding (and serious) role than we’re used to seeing him play. I was unsure if he would come through on this – since it’s more of a serious role, but he did, with flying colors.

Gene Hackman does a good job with his role as well, especially when conveying his emotions to the viewers. The viewer can see him fighting the battle in his head: obey orders and watch his man die, or disobey orders and save him. It’s also obvious he wants to be there to help Burnett when he’s on the phone with him, and feels frustrated that there’s nothing he can do.

Behind Enemy Lines‘ special effects were great and the camera tricks helped the film a lot. Watching the action through speeded-up (or slowed down) time is great, and they don’t overdo it. Some of the shots were amazing, and watching jets – whether on-screen or at an air show – is always fun.

The plot behind the film takes the lone hero of the Rambo-style movies, and tries to makes his actions believable. Of course, this film isn’t too much in the Rambo vein, though, because the hero runs most of the time, and doesn’t take on – for example – a whole army of mercenaries by himself. The excitement of the film builds right from the start, and viewers will want to stick around to see if the hero makes it out alive.

The Behind Enemy Lines DVD has a fair amount of special features. One thing it’s missing, though: the theatrical trailer. Who decided to put the trailer to Minority Report (2002), but leave Behind Enemy Lines’ trailer out? I like to watch the trailer before the movie, so it puts me in the right frame of mind. If it’s not there, I feel a little cheated. There is a good behind the scenes featurette, as well as the ejection sequence in mock-up form, which is great to see, but the trailer would have been nice.

Behind Enemy Lines is a definite edge-of-your seat action-packed thrill-ride. Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman give good performances, the special effects and the camera tricks are nice, and the plot is involving right from the get-go. Definitely a great action movie, slightly reminiscent of Top Gun (1986).

If you’re in the mood for staying home and being entertained, be sure to pick up this DVD to own, or at least to rent.

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