Behind Enemy Lines
- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
Even as U.S. pilots are on active duty in dangerous territory, Owen Wilson is on the big screen this week playing a pilot who gets shot down in
Michael Elliott (Movie Parables) remarks that director John Moore's stylish action scenes "certainly do get our attention. But they don't lead us to anything more worthwhile. Explosions for explosions' sake don't seem to hold the same fascination they once might have."
Likewise, Douglas Downs (Christian Spotlight on the Movies) sums it up: "Lots of action, but no substance."
Bob Smithouser (Focus on the Family) calls it fare for "adrenaline junkies who lack the attention span required for a cerebral thriller like
The critic at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops goes easier on the film: "Moore pumps up a simple premise with skillfully choreographed action scenes, depicting the brutality of war while attempting to comment on the importance of saving even one life despite the risks."
Focusing on the story, Ed Crumley (Preview) testifies that "the gung ho, can-do attitude of the rescue team members, who volunteer to risk their lives to save one man, is inspiring." But he too disparages the film for "foul language, violence, and gore."
Family-minded critic Holly McClure was impressed with "a unique visual style that sets it apart from other war films." She likes Wilson—"a hero the audience can relate to"—and decides that "the timing for this movie couldn't have been more perfect. A movie about an 'unconventional war' … can't help but play on patriotic emotions."
He criticizes Hollywood's current crop of military-themed movies for not having "the benefit of a post-Sept. 11 perspective. … [They are] scripted with an inherent distrust of government intelligence and military institutions. What was once standard Hollywood issue now seems strangely anachronistic in a time when public confidence in government institutions and America's armed forces is high."
Clearly, mainstream media critics are also sensitive to sensationalized violence. Roger Ebert writes, "Its hero is so reckless and its villains so incompetent that it's a showdown between a man begging to be shot, and an enemy that can't hit the side of a Bosnian barn. This is not the story of a fugitive trying to sneak through enemy terrain and be rescued, but of a movie character magically transported from one photo opportunity to another." He mentions that the movie premiered on a U.S. aircraft carrier, and muses, "I wonder if it played as a comedy."
Stephanie Zacharek of