Behind Enemy Lines (2001)
Review Date: November 27, 2001
Director: John Moore
Writer: David Veloz, Zak Penn
Producers: John Davis
A jaded, somewhat spoiled, Navy pilot bitches about how boring his daily routine has become until one day, his plane gets shot down behind enemy lines. All of a sudden, he has to deal with many pissed up bad guys, looking to put a bullet through his head, booby traps galore, cold weather and a war, about which he knows very little. Will he get out alive? Will he finally get a nose job? Does anyone really not know how this movie is going to turn out? Action ensues.
Fun cheese. This movie isn't trying to save the world or anything, but it's certainly aiming to entertain its audience for a little over an hour and a half, and by golly, if I wasn't entertained pretty much the whole way through! A miniscule set-up to a simple story (good guy shot down behind enemy lines...bad guys after him), this baby powers up as soon as Wilson and his partner hit to the skies and stumble into one of the more kinetic action sequences of the year. Two missiles zoom through the sky, zigging-zagging, curving around just enough to follow the American fighter up the rear for a handful of very tense moments. I really got a rush out of this scene, and the frantic directing upped the ante even further. But that's when the fun really starts. Once Wilson hits the ground, he's basically a man on the run and boy...does he ever run! Run over hills, run over mountains, run through forests (ahem, sorry folks...that's any easy joke and I'm gonna have to take it)...run Forrest run!! But the film doesn't get much deeper than that, and it certainly doesn't try to be too innovative with its plot. It's utterly predictable, and yet, I still enjoyed it. I especially appreciated the crazy shots utilized throughout the film, by first-time director John Moore, who doesn't skip one page in the book of camera tricks. You get slow-motion, fast-motion, stop-motion, cranes, freeze-frames, dollies, super-slo motion shots of a man firing a weapon while being blown away by a bomb at the same time...all kinds of fun shite! Basically, he peppers the film with plenty of visual excitement, while providing us with just enough action-packed moments to satisfy all popcorn urges.
Do you feel for the characters? Well, basically the only two in the game are Wilson and Hackman, and they both come up smelling like roses, in my opinion. Wilson, better known for his great smaller roles, proves that he can use his charm to cover an entire film, and continues to use his uber-cool shnoz to its full potential. I felt for the poor bastard, even though I was pretty sure that things were gonna turn out okay in the end. And Hackman, well, what can you say about this real-life ex-Marine. He's always been an anchor in any movie in which he stars, and it's no different here. Sure, he's basically just cashing a paycheck, and most of his scenes look like they came straight from unused reels of CRIMSON TIDE, but the ol' koot can still out-act anyone young whippersnapper with his cigar tied behind his back! If this guy tells me to win a war for my country...by gum, I'm gonna do it, dammit! And yes, people...the ending of this movie is very patriotic and over-the-top, but hell, I had a blast watching it and that's pretty much all that I was looking for in this film (if you're expecting a great war movie, rent SAVING PRIVATE RYAN). This movie has bad guys who look like Van Damme movie rejects, brings back memories from the days of John Rambo when everybody but he would get killed and isn't going to surprise anyone with its patent conclusion, but like I said before...it's a fun ride, it's great timing and if you're looking to get your head around some of the more serious Oscar bait straddling around your local Cineplex, try this nacho-muncher out for size!
(c) 2013 Berge Garabedian