Saturday, July 10, 2010

Behind Enemy Lines

Staying with Owen Wilson, we find him in one of his dramatic turn as a half-hearted Navy pilot shot down over Bosnia. While struggling to make it cross country to a rescue point, he uncovers evidence of a massacre committed by a Serbian general.

The plot is loosely based on the Bosnian War which raged in the ’90’s. Some of the connections are laughably. The actual peace agreement ending the war was called the Dayton Accord. I the movie, it is the Cincinnati Accord. Why thecae? Your guess is as good as mine. The similarities between Owen Wilson’s character’s (Chris Bennett) plight and that of Scott O’Grady, an American pilot shot down over Bosnia in 1995 and survived for six days before being rescued, wee enough to prompt O’Grady to sue the producers for defamation. He probably just did no want to be associated with this dud.

Neither did the Serbs. No Serbian actors wanted to take part in the production because of the strong anti-Serbian themes. All Serbian characters were played by Croats and Russian, often with pigeon Serb dialogue.

Bennett fails into all the usual action movie cliché: he flies into hails of ten thousand bullets while never getting hit, but never misses himself.. He knocks out a Serbian soldier and takes his uniform. It happens to fit him perfectly. He even takes off the ski mask before he is completely out of danger just to reveal to the audience it is him. His final Tarzan-esque act as he is being rescued is laugh out loud funny, but not in a good way.

I cannot believe Gene Hackman would star in this junk as Bennett‘s commanding officer. I also cannot figure out while the military cooperated with its filming. A real admiral would never jeopardize his career by rescuing Bennett personally. I cannot imagine Bennett himself would reconsidered hero after his abandonment of his co-pilot to radio for help gets him killed. But there is a neatly packaged, happy ending regardless.

There are a million similar action films out there. I daresay the vast majority are far, far better. Some exciting moments happen, but they are overshadowed by the movie’s obvious flaws. If it is any consolation to the producers, Behind Enemy Lines is still far better than its direct to video sequels.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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