Rousing Behind Enemy Lines Stirs Patriotic Spirit
- Holly McClure Movie Reviewer
- 2001 24 Nov
Best for: Mature teens to adults
What it's about: Lieutenant Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) is a frustrated F-18 pilot who yearns for action, but is stuck in a war where watching, waiting and routine drills are status quo. When Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman) chooses Burnett to fly a "routine" reconnaissance mission over friendly Bosnia territory, he and his partner photograph an event and are immediately shot down. Enemy troops and an expert marksman hunt for Burnett, forcing him to use his survival skills to make it to neutral territory to be rescued. David Keith and Joaquim De Almeida also star.
The good: Director John Moore gives us an unconventional war movie with an unconventional and likeable hero. Moore's unique visual style adds flair, setting the film apart from other war movies and providing a painful reminder of the horrors of war.
Thrilling Top Gun-style flight sequences, frightening hunt-and-chase scenes, explosions and an all-too-real clash between Muslims and Serbs are balanced with bizarre moments, including Burnett hitching a ride with militants dressed like Elvis.
Owen Wilson is perfectly cast as the personable "everyman" navigator forced to use his head in hellish circumstances. He's a hero the audience can relate to, surviving by using his brains as well as his brawn. This role should endear him to audiences ready for a new kind of war-movie "hero." Hackman counters Wilson's glib humor and easygoing demeanor with serious leadership, full of heart for the military he serves and the men he trains.
This movie definitely comes along at the right time and will, if nothing else, stir the patriotic heartstrings of everyone who sees it. The unique story is complemented by Moore's stylistic direction.
The not-so-good: This is a war movie, so men are shot, blown up, and in one scene, executed.
Offensive language: About a dozen religious profanities and a few F-words.
Sexual situations: None
Violence: Wartime scenes of dead bodies (decapitated heads and limbs in a ditch). Men are shot, blown up by mines and, in one scene, executed.
Parental advisory: This is a fast-paced, action-packed war movie with adult violence and language that earn it the PG-13 rating. My 15-year-old said he enjoyed it because it reminded him of the war we're in and the sacrifices that are being made for freedom. While I can't condone the language, I can see how this movie will stir both the patriotic hearts of mature teenagers, who may be contemplating serving their country, as well as an American public ready to see America win our war.