"Behind Enemy Lines" is exactly the kind of film that I will not spare harsh words for. After all, was I not made to sit for two hours watching a work so devoid of passion, truth and entertainment value? The film is predictable down to the very last detail. It is a work processed straight out of the Hollywood Money Making Machine with no touch of humanity anywhere to be found. I think it would be more appropriately titled "Run Owen, Run! (Brought to you by Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and Ice Cube.)" If you've seen the film you know exactly what I'm talking about.
If you must know, the plot involves Owen Wilson as Chris Burnett, a Navy lieutenant running away from his Serbian foes. Gene Hackman is Admiral Reigart, the one trying to pick Burnett up and bring him back home. The trouble is, a peace treaty was recently signed between America and those chasing Burnett, so if Admiral Reigart dares and goes after him, his entire command is at stake. War is a complex subject, and a good war film should never be able to be summarized in three sentences. But this isn't a good war film, and I just did it, didn't I?
I probably don't need to tell you how unrealistic this whole affair is. Am I supposed to believe that with an entire section of the Serbian army on his tail, Burnett gets out completely unscathed? Are these guys really such bad shots that out of all of them, not one can even hit Burnett in the leg? With the carelessness Burnett shows, he's pretty damn lucky that Hollywood "magic" can pull him out of a jam whenever he needs. I say Burnett is careless, let me elaborate. If I were in his position, and had a chance to escape by blending in with the opponent, there is no way I would take off a ski mask that was concealing my identity (even if I did get rewarded by hearing that triumphant music in the background).
I am also sick of directors coming into Hollywood, placing a bunch of radical camera tricks in their film and thinking that makes them Orson Welles. POV, 360 degree rotation, Slow-Motion (one of the inventions the film world would be a better place without), lightning-quick montages, it's all here, and ALL the time. Director John Moore never gives it a rest. English should be a required course in film school so directors can forget about the lenses and the camera speeds for at least a minute and focus on the point they're trying to get across.
Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman do their worst in this film. Owen Wilson is a generally good actor who somehow lets all his acting skills go to waste and create a completely bland, stupid character. And Gene Hackman? It would be a huge understatement to call him a fantastic actor who's had some classic performances, but he is scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one. I can safely say that this is one of the worst performances of his fruitful career, and I am in shock that such a smart actor as him would choose such an empty project. However, Gene Hackman at his worst is better than Ben Affleck trying his hardest. The one reason "Behind Enemy Lines" is on a level slightly above dreck like "Pearl Harbor" is because it is graced with his presence.
"Behind Enemy Lines" is the kind of film built to suck in money, and maybe grab a few awards along the way. Unfortunately, this is becoming the norm for war movies these days, but trust me, people aren't being fooled. If you want a surge of post 9/11 patriotism or inspiration, save your nine bucks and rent something with real emotion like "Casablanca" or "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"; something that aims to do more than nab the top spot at the weekend box office.