Given his long and publicly-loved track record with Comedy – it may be hard for fans of Owen Wilson's to now take him as a straight guy in Army camouflage - dogging bullets in hostile European territory while he waits for Gene Hackman and his boffins on an aircraft carrier to get him to safety. But how many comedians have turned out to be astonishingly good actors when given tough and dark material to work with – there’s a long list. So add "Behind Enemy Lines" to that list of crossovers – because it’s surprisingly good and Wilson is a revelation in it.
But British fans should be aware that when buying the BLU RAY – the ’US’ edition on 20th Century Fox is REGION A LOCKED - so it won't play on our machines unless they're chipped to be 'all regions' which most aren't.
Buy the UK or European versions instead – they’re dirt-cheap now - a looker on the Format - and a quality War movie you’ll find yourself enjoying a lot more than you thought you would...
on 3 March 2003
Although it's possible that there's some politically correct people out there that can't enjoy a film if it uses stereotypes, gratuitous violence (most of which ended on the cuttingroom floor anyway), or "typical" Hollywood hamfistedness when tackling issues of recent times that they don't fully understand, Behind Enemy Lines is *still* a great deal of fun. It's pure Saturday night in popcorn entertainment. It's brash, it's loud, there's a ton of explosions, and deep down in there there's something of a message, although to be honest you'd be hard pushed to find it.
The film follows a disillusioned Navy fighter pilot, on the verge of leaving the service as he's lost track of what it is that he's supposed to be fighting for, who then gets shot down over Bosnia during a routine surveillance mission on Christmas Day. He has to evade capture, and eventually try and get to a pick-up point where he'll be lifted to safety by a rescue team from his aircraft carrier. Throw into the mix a bit of genocide, executions, a long chase a la The Fugitive, political wrangling and a surprising amount of tension and suspense and you've got the recipe for a great night in.
Owen Wilson makes for a decent hero, and the film is edited in a flashy style that's both visually appealing and moves along at a fair old pace. Gene Hackman sleepwalks through his role as "The Admiral", chewing on scenery and barking just like you think he will when you see his name in the opening credits.
Behind Enemy Lines is actually a lot better than you'd think it would, or probably should, be and even though you get the rousing flagwaving anthemic music during the final action sequence, this isn't enough to detract from everything that went before it.
The DVD is a good example of what could have been without too much interference by the US rating board. All the footage that was considered "too graphic" for public consumption appears in the deleted scenes (with optional commentary) - basically more violence during the battle in Hac, and more footage from the mass grave Owen Wilson discovers whilst trying to evade capture. It's grim, but the film could have benefitted from it's inclusion as it lends itself to a darker, more fitting tone. There's alternate takes on various sequences, sfx breakdowns, commentaries, plenty to keep you occupied after watching the film.
The film itself is a stunning presentation, visually it's flawless and the audio, in either Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1, will literally tear your livingroom apart during the action sequences, although it's just as impressive with ambient effects during quieter moments, creating a full 3D soundfield that's amongst the best I've heard.
Very entertaining and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone that can happily remove their brain when they watch these kind of movies
Behind Enemy Lines is a surprisingly good action adventure despite starting and ending badly. Despite a few misjudged moments when he can't resist speeding up the film, John Moore's direction is surprisingly good and gives few indications of what a terrible director he would develop into - the sequence where the plane is shot down is brilliantly staged and genuinely exciting stuff - and it doesn't entirely trivialize its East European setting. The need to get a PG-13 waters down the casual violence apparent in the deleted scenes, but it offers an occasionally convincing portrait of a civil war in mundane urban settings. There's some ingenuity in the script, with a particularly impressive use of satellite imaging, but it is let down by an ending that falls prey to the delusion that any foreign policy problem can be solved by sending in helicopter gunships with enough firepower to destroy a small army. No masterpiece, but a very efficient Saturday night special.
on 30 September 2003
This film has some of the best flight sequences I have ever seen. The cinematography is superb, and one gets a glimpse into the speed a pilot experiences as he tries to outmaneuver an oncoming missile; it also shows the "nuts and bolts" of the ejection seat process, which I found fascinating.
Having fairly low expectations for this film, I was amazed at how entertaining and visually stunning it actually is, and am surprised it did not receive greater success in its theatrical release.
It takes place in Bosnia during an imaginary time, with US forces under NATO command, and though fiction, it uses captions at the end, telling the audience what happened to the characters, as if it were a true story.
Filmed on the USS Carl Vinson, and in Slovakia, with the beauty of the Carpathian mountains as a backdrop for the horror of a war zone, director John Moore keeps the pace of this film constantly pumping. Though some characters are somewhat cartoonish, and the script at times silly, much of the acting is good. Gene Hackman can always be depended upon for a solid performance, and Owen Wilson does well as the main protagonist, who starts out as being a rather shallow, whiny fellow, and grows with his extreme experience, as he plays a cat and mouse chase with a Serbian "tracker", played by Russian actor Vladimir Maskov. Gabriel Macht is excellent in the smaller part of the fighter pilot Stackhouse.
Yes, there are times the plot is contrived and not altogether believable, but this is more than made up for by the dazzling cinematography by Brandan Galvin, a fine score by Don Davis, and astounding visual and sound effects…and if you like jets and choppers the way I do, you are guaranteed to like this film.
on 28 August 2009
I watched this movie on blu-ray and was staggered by the quality of the picture and the sound, I would use it to show off my system to anybody interested. Even my wife enjoyed it and she isn't into this type of film usually.
The flying sequences are brilliant and (honestly) my sofa actually shook when the planes take off, and the explosions and gunfire are frightenly realistic.
We are all entitled to our own opinions, but sometimes I just can't understand how such a good movie can be given a 1 star rating and the picture quality criticised when it is so superb. Maybe the whole thing is down to the equipment being used, or dare I say a bad copy.
on 29 June 2006
In many ways this is an old fashioned movie. We start with a hero who has problems with authority but is good at what he does. His superiors are frustrated with him, but recognise something of themselves in him to. The hero rises to the occasion, keeps going when others would have laid down and died, and ultimately prevails.
That's a type of film which appeals to me anyway, but many in this genre are dull and formulaic, and bring nothing new.
What raises this one up above its peers is the setting. The madness of "limited intervention" is exposed as serving only those who are willing to exploit its weaknesses for their own ends. The frustrations of those who strive to retain their morality and common sense is neatly juxtaposed against the attitudes of those who are happy to pay lipservice to accords signed thousands of miles away which have no effect on the ground. Faced with an uncomfortable truth, this latter type turns away and chooses ignorance, for fear of being forced to take action. This is not a situation unique to the former Yugoslavia, but it reached its nadir there and that is something of which we cannot be reminded too often.
Behind Enemy Lines is not Schindler's List, but it's no empty-headed "Top Gun" either. Owen Wilson's performance confirms that as well as being a comedian and an excellent writer, he's a convincing dramatic actor too.
Buy it and enjoy it, and feel happy that every time you show it to a friend you will be reminding them of what happened to the people of that torn-apart country while Europe looked on and did little.
Generally, I'll watch films with Gene Hackman's name in the credits and, alhtough this is not one of his best roles, indeed it is not a lengthy role compared with the film as a whole, it is a good thriller. Not a classic by any means but a typical Hollywood action film, this time set in Bosnia with the usual stereotypical characters, e.g. the maverick admiral (played by you know who) who defies authority to bring back one of his men, a disillusioned Navy pilot who "comes good" after being shot down behind enemy lines in Bosnia - on Christmas Day.
From that point, he has to evade a persistent enemy searching for him relentlessly and, in spectacular action scenes, make the pick-up point for his rescue. Hackman has to make a series of critical decision for his man, Owen Wilson, who makes a decent low-ranked hero, a counter-point to Hackman's admiral, a role which he finds no problem with and fills with his personality.
The DVD has additional, bonus sections, i.e. some of the more violent or grim scenes (which ended on the cutting room floor for fear of a ratings increase), alternate takes on various sequences, sfx breakdowns, commentaries and stills. For those with home cinema systems, the sound quality is wonderful.
A typical Hollywood adventure film, with no particular message to it and definitely not a classic but it will keep viewers on the edge of seats for a couple of hours.
Not Hackman's best but thrilling.
on 3 August 2003
"Hmmm" is what i thought to myself after watching this film. How was is it that they made a really great movie that begged me to watch and understand every second of tape, without having any women in it? And women with nothing much on either!?
This film about 2 hotshot fliers in the U.S. navy being shot down and rescued has a resonably simple plot bordering on being complicated, which is how i like my films, not a walkthrough, yet not too much thought involved either.
One thing i really liked about this film was the slow motion sequences, like the falling of a gun to the ground after an explosion exposing the clips' spring. I'm not sure how the director does it, but somehow manages to capture the exact feeling of the scene in one short, slow motion event that sums it all up. Lets not get into specifics here, it works and is very good, which is all that counts to you, the viewer.
The music included is another great asset to the overall presentation, with less of the infantry marching band and drum rolls and more tending towards catchy songs, one inparticular caught my attention by Feeder, that just on a CD player doesn't sound anything brilliant, but here it sounds a masterpiece. So, the music goes hand in hand with the film and really gives a more modern and different touch which sets this film apart from its rivals.
For a war conflict (and a recent one too), the script has its funny moments, which doesn't make it tacky or disrespectful in anyway.
Action is constant throughout, so you stunt sequence monkeys/ Matrix fans will be in your essence.
In summary, i would say this film is just top notch, everything about it has been thought through and just works...very well indeed. I can't explain why, just buy it and you'll see what i mean.
It also has moderate replay value; you can watch it more than twice basically and still enjoy the film experience, which is probably aided by the music and uplifting/often comic script.
on 6 May 2009
I disagree with the 1 star rating this movie is a good film not great but good fun! The picture quality is good aswell far better than the dvd and the sound if your listening it on surround sound you feel like your in the film. This is worth buying if your just starting your collection!
on 4 April 2014
Does this film deliver the goods or what? (that's rhetorical btb) A superb drama interlaced with a war is hell message. Tonnes of special here. More than enough to pad out the 100 minutes running time. And if it needed to be said (or typed) again, Wilson is marvellous in his first, and possibly final, straight role. You really find yourself rooting for him and want him to survive, especially after the brutal act of violence he witnesses. After an amazing, hair raising aerial attack you get a cross country slog littered with bullets whizzing and bombs exploding. Definitely worth a watch. And a rewatch. Highly recommended.