Film review: Behind Enemy Lines

Yeah, yeah, yeah: it took me nine years to see this movie. I’ve been busy, ‘k? Anyway.

This film is unique in that I’m able to (almost) completely forgive the bad-ness (bleh dialogue, unbelievable action sequences) because the good-ness (Owen Wilson’s character, the believable action sequences) managed to stick in my memory more.

First off, the most basic of summaries: Wilson is Lt. Chris Burnett, a Navy pilot shot down during a reconnaissance mission over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Gene Hackman is Adm. Leslie Reigart, the guy who (esssentially) tries to get him back. And yeah, that’s really all you need to know. If I have to explain the meaning of the film’s title, kindly navigate away from this page and never visit again, because the stupid might be catching.

Second off, here is what I like:
Burnett is not the easily likable, oh-so-resourceful, uber-industrious, hyper-obedient Tragic Hero of so many other war dramas. He’s actually kind of an insolent little punk, not in an irritating way but a realistic one. I mean, really: how many career military men do you know who aren’t (at least sometimes) cocky and full of themselves? I say this with love and admiration: We don’t win wars with meek and deferential soldiers.

Ahem. So Burnett is a wise-ass who finds himself pretty severely fucked, and reacts accordingly. He needs to get his shit together before the automatic Survival Mode kicks in, and this seems pretty reasonable to me.

But let’s back up: I also said that there were some believable action sequences. Particularly, The Big One: the actual shooting-down of ze aircraft. Heat-seeking missiles seek heat. They don’t travel in straight lines. Being engaged with one is, you know, bad. Not having actually been in this situation myself, I prefer this film’s depiction as opposed to others I’ve seen. I mean, not that I actually want to see this sort of thing, but you know. I’ll leave it at that.

So there’s the good. Are you ready for the bad?
I’ve established that Burnett is, in fact, Behind Enemy Lines. Did I also mention that he’s being manhunt-ed by one rogue dude in a track jacket? He’s a Bad Guy because he chain smokes. Actually, that’s a pretty Universal Sign of Bad Guy-ness, am I right? Well, Track Jacket (his character’s name is Sasha, but let’s go with TJ)… TJ is tracking Burnett through the woods and the mountains and the everything else. And TJ is good at what he does – better, really, than Burnett is at evading. But the Final Showdown between the two… man!

Let’s just say that I did not know that Navy pilots were trained in the art of sliding across frozen lakes while shooting, one-handed!, at the enemy with a 9-mil. The scene is horribly priceless, and exactly what I assumed the rest of the film would be full of. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

Originally, I Netflix’d this one because I was intrigued by the ¬†casting: Owen Wilson? Really, Casting People? I just didn’t see it. Actually, no: I had to see it. I assumed the absolute worst, but ended up being pleasantly surprised.

Also, for what it’s worth: this film is (loosely) based on the true story of Scott O’Grady.

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