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Behind Enemy Lines
DVD disk
10.08.2004 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Behind Enemy Lines order
Director:
John Moore

Actors:
Owen Wilson
Gene Hackman
Joaquim de Almeida

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A Navy pilot (Wilson) gets shot down in hostile territory of the Balkans. He runs out of luck when NATO prevents his ship's captain (Hackman) from launching a rescue operation, and hangs on for dear life while the Serbian army hunts him down.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Are you up for some popcorn? Are you up for some action movie clichés? Are you up for some "Americans are good, the rest of the world is bad" filmmaking? If so, watch this and it's exactly what you'll get. Cliché by any standard, this movie is very loosely (emphasis on "very") based on the real life story of pilot Scott O'Grady who was shot down in that same area in 1995. Owen Wilson and his "nose" star as the stranded pilot, who's two weeks from quitting the Navy because he finds it boring. Hackman mails in a very typical performance as the tough but fair Navy Captain, who disciplines his men for their own good. You want some more clichés? You got it! Hackman can't send out a rescue team because a NATO commander in charge of his ship won't let him because he fears that it may jeopardize peace negotiations. Wow... I think you can fill in the rest and you won't even need to spend the 4 bucks on the rental.

But enough ragging. This film is actually very entertaining if you consider the action scenes and a very cool and creepy character. The character in question is a guy known as "The Tracker". This dude (Vladimir Mashkov) is some sort of elite sniper/hunter/scout/kung-fu master/overall bad-ass who's got it in for our friend Owen. This dude is cool as a cucumber as he hunts the pilot down through any landscape you can think of without regard for himself, his victim or even his compatriots. To put it plainly, this guy doesn't fuck around and he's all business. As far as plotline goes, don't expect this to be Tolstoy, but in terms of adrenaline, it delivers! It's pretty fun stuff, although some of the CGI was crap and would have been more believable had Play-Doh been used. On the other hand, some other effects are flat out spectacular! I guess this film just keeps you guessing as to whether or not you should like it.
THE EXTRAS
This DVD has some decent Bonus material offering, starting with a short 5-minute Behind-the-Scenes featurette which discusses some of the extensive training Owen Wilson had to undergo to get the feel of the movie. As well, it gives you a pretty good idea of the lengths the crew went to, to make this seem as realistic as possible.

Next up is a set of 5 deleted or extended scenes. These scenes are all pretty good on their own but in the end, I was happy they had been left out. Some seemed to be off with the pace of the rest of the film while some were giveaways of things that had been implied in the film. It's sometimes better not to be so obvious. They're worth a look. Also included are alternate opening and end credits. All these are available with optional commentary from director John Moore and Editor Paul Martin Smith.

Following that is a Pre-Vis Ejection Seat Sequence. As you can imagine, the pilot has to eject when he gets shot and this gives way to one of the most spectacular sequences in the film. This Pre-Vis sequence let you see a "model" of what the scene was originally intended to look like prior to being shot. Looking a bit like a home movie, it's a cool insight in the world of filmmaking.

And last but not least, there are two commentary tracks. The first one is narrated by director John Moore and Editor Paul Martin Smith. They're both pretty subdued and the track runs a bit slow, but it's your average commentary fare, with the guys going over the standard topics. If ever you've heard any DVD commentary track before, you'll know exactly of what this consists. If you haven't, this shouldn't be your first one.

The second track is given by producers John Davis and Wyck Godfrey. I usually don't like commentaries by producers simply because they never offer any real insight into the film, but these guys are a real piece of work! I've never seen two guys whine more about how demanding their job is. For the love of God!! You're a producer!! You sit on your ass, write checks and sleep with hookers!! How hard is that!?! One of them actually has the gall to complain that they had to accommodate the Navy's schedule while they were filming on the carrier!! What a pair of clowns!!!
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Overall, this is a pretty satisfying film although it really doesn't bring forth anything new. Mindless excitement is the key word and if that's what you're looking for, that's what you'll get. Because of that though, it scores fairly low on the re-watch meter and the DVD features, although good for a quick viewing, are satisfying but not great. A rental.
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