More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 22.06%
Worth A Look25%
Average: 10.29%
Pretty Bad: 21.32%
Total Crap: 21.32%

9 reviews, 82 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Labyrinth of Cinema by Jay Seaver

King's Man, The by Jay Seaver

Poupelle of Chimney Town by Jay Seaver

Nightmare Alley (2021) by Rob Gonsalves

Matrix Resurrections, The by Rob Gonsalves

Tragedy of Macbeth, The by Rob Gonsalves

355, The by Peter Sobczynski

G Storm by Jay Seaver

Licorice Pizza by Peter Sobczynski

Matrix Resurrections, The by Peter Sobczynski

subscribe to this feed

Behind Enemy Lines
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Scott Weinberg

"Solider of Misfortune"
2 stars

Generally, there are two types of war movies. The more prestigious ones try to display the hell of battle and expose the moral dilemmas inherent in such widescale violence. Several of the finest films ever made are intelligent war movies, such as Apocalypse Now, Saving Private Ryan and The Deer Hunter. On the other hand, some war flicks are simply retarded.

With a plot than can be best described as "Die Hard meets the world's most violent game of Freeze Tag", Behind Enemy Lines easily ranks among the year's most disposable movies. Its release date pushed up a few months in an effort to exploit America's need for simplistic sabre-rattling and simpleton heroes, this movie adds literally nothing new to the 'war-action' genre, and aside from the always-watchable Gene Hackman the film is a deadly bore as well.

There should be a rule in Hollywood that any movie "pitch" has to be at least three sentences long. Boasting one of the most simplistic set-ups in recent memory, Behind Enemy Lines tells the tale of a downed Navy pilot, and his efforts to achieve rescue. That's pretty much it. The politics of the movie are rather sketchy, but suffice to say that America Kicks Ass! Whoohoo! (Forgive my international ignorance, but it was never made clear to me if the villainous soldiers were Bosnian, Serbian, Croatian, Muslim, Martians or Jehovah's Witnesses.)

After taking some photographs of some mass graves, jet pilots Burnett (Owen Wilson) and Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht) are promptly shot out of the sky. (Amidst all the familiar goings-on, this sequence is delivered in a decidedly exciting fashion.) Since you know from all of the trailers that this movie is about ONE soldier trying to stay alive, it's a good bet that one of the pilots is about to become a permanent bullet receptacle. Then it's off to the hills for Lt. Burnett as he runs, lopes, slides, jumps and shimmies his way away from anyone carrying a weapon. (This is not so much an "action" movie as it is an "evasion" movie.)

Back on the high seas, Admiral Leslie (!) Riegart (Hackman) puts his plan in motion to "go get our boy back", only to have his orders superceded by the authority of a curiously evil French Admiral. Heck, if this were 1989, we could just have Richard Crenna pop this guy in the face and start the rescue. Alas, we live in more political times these days, and Riegart is (at first) forced to comply with Frenchie. (Actually, the French Admiral's objections to the rescue mission serve as nothing more than an excuse to pad the film's running time an extra 15 minutes.)

With its quick pace and proclivity for overt action silliness, Behind Enemy Lines will be embraced by many as a "simple fun B-movie", and that it may be. But there's no way this movie had to be so unredeemingly dumb! Even Hackman's done this exact same movie before! (He's done so many films that I doubt he'd even remember the underrated Bat*21.) Owen Wilson is a likeable enough screen presence, but he's way out of his league in "action-hero" territory. The head villains (who of course set off to destroy our hero with ridiculously single-minded intent) are uniformly bland and uninteresting, but that doesn't stop them from getting the most elaborate death scenes at the end.

Perhaps Behind Enemy Lines would fare perfectly as a military training film...the kind that shows young soldiers what NOT to do if shot down in battle. Throughout the course of his adventures, Burnett does about 9 different things that NO trained soldier would ever do, such as:

1. While hidden from enemy sight (at this point they are unaware of his very existence), Burnett yelps in horror as another soldier is killed - thereby proving not only his presence, but his EXACT location as well! Duh!

2. Upon meeting some friendly civilians, Burnett quickly divulges secret information that would be Top Secret even to the most important military officers!

3. While communicating with the Admiral over radio, Burnett repeatedly mentions names, locations and meeting points that would most likely result in not only his capture, but would also insure the deaths of anyone coming to rescue him!

But intelligence is not really what Behind Enemy Lines is about. It's about running in between explosions, sliding down cliffs and hopping over land mines. Several of the action sequences are delivered in an annoying stutter-step visual style, as if first-time director John Moore were infusing the quick-cut talents of Michael Bay with the haphazard editing skills of a rusty blender. Slow-motion effects are inserted seemingly at random.

Fans of silly B-movie heroics will have a good time with this stale little chestnut, but most will acknowledge this movie for what it is: a silly and disposable affair, notable only for its suspicious release date shuffling. I realize that Americans are looking for some patriotic heroes these days, but that doesn't mean our heroes have to be so darn stupid.

Combine Rambo (less carnage) with Top Gun (less latent homosexuality) with Chariots of Fire (more running) and you have Behind Enemy Lines. While it's far from the worst B-movie action flick to come down the pike, I'd hardly consider that a ringing endorsement.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 12/08/01 06:50:09
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

12/20/18 morris campbell not bad popcorn movie IMHO 4 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell action packed popcorn flick 4 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison Who could have imagined Owen Wilson as an action star? 3 stars
5/23/11 Braddock very entertaining movie 4 stars
7/11/09 then came bronson This review has me so pumped I am gonna watch the movie now. lol 2 stars
5/07/09 DK Good film, entertaining, well paced and with enough substance to skate by. 4 stars
8/27/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was Awesome!! Loved It. 5 stars
11/10/07 Alex Köhler Soooo idiotic and unrealistic, even for Hollywood. I served in Bosnia- S.F.O.R. and ... 1 stars
5/01/07 Aaron Johnson i thought it was a really cool movie, one of hackman's best performances since CRIMSON TIDE 5 stars
3/25/07 action movie fan exciting suspensful action movie-one of the best of 2001 4 stars
12/28/06 William Goss A marginally entertaining action flick, perfectly worthy of an afternoon on cable. 4 stars
12/18/06 EAG owen wilson is so hott and this movie rocks! 5 stars
8/30/06 Jarkko Perälä Jingoistic crap 1 stars
7/24/06 BuB It was a tense thriller wicth i enjoyed 5 stars
8/23/05 ES Better when it was called 'BAT 21' 3 stars
7/30/05 bOB THE HOb AFTER reading the movie reviews i realized once again how clueless many people are. It is 4 stars
6/13/05 Sam Its brill and owen is fit 5 stars
6/08/05 JD This movie stinks, it's totally unrealistic, the characters suck, very painful movie. 1 stars
11/17/04 puchacz pilot i like it god damnit!!! 5 stars
8/18/04 T.S. Kendall Great entertainment. Stays focused on storyline. Owen's best showing. 4 stars
5/31/04 Nobody somewhat cliche, but entertaining 3 stars
12/20/03 aren'tweallannonymous the movie was good, but mocks matrix in slo-mo(kinda gay) 4 stars
11/06/03 Debbie The action scenes were great, if a little unrealistic... hey, it is a movie, folks! Owen Wi 4 stars
9/16/03 Mike Pruzie I liked the technical realism. The characters seemd genuine. 4 stars
4/27/03 RP Excellent: I served and knew the facts; these were the facts! 5 stars
4/17/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik (sarcastically) Go America! 1 stars
1/19/03 charlie Hardly believable 2 stars
1/03/03 Annonoymous you all suck at rating movies 5 stars
12/02/02 Jim Wilson & Hackman are entertaining; worth seeing for the final helicopters vs. Serbs battle. 4 stars
8/19/02 Vikram Munikoti Awesome...edge-of-your-seat thriller 5 stars
7/13/02 Jim Bedford The Magnificant Seven Return yet again 5 stars
7/05/02 ! G000000D 4 stars
5/12/02 Matt This movie gives cliches a bad name 1 stars
4/29/02 burt this movie was one of the best i've ever seen in theaters, FUCKING AWESOME 5 stars
4/27/02 Kelly Murphy Good war movie! I love Owen Wilson movies! 5 stars
4/25/02 Ashley Broussard This movie was great..i loved definitely buying it&no one's borrowing it 5 stars
4/04/02 lauren mccreight the ending is so bad thougth i was gonna cry.... 2 stars
2/26/02 ownerofdajoint goodtimerockandrollerkindaflick 4 stars
2/21/02 Jon Fuckin Awesome Movie and awesome soundtrack, owen wilson rulz, i also like the bosnian jay 5 stars
2/21/02 adsfadf asdfadf 5 stars
2/18/02 Carla not bad... just kinda unrealistic at times... good suspense 3 stars
2/15/02 Tim Excellent 5 stars
2/11/02 Vic Only watch of you like war action movies. Very realystic setting. I have been in Bosnia! 4 stars
2/10/02 Owen Wilson My film rocks. Best film this year! 5 stars
2/07/02 Jimbo Ending is very suss but overall a good flick 4 stars
2/05/02 Jerk-OFF-reviewer I love this movie its great. Sorry the other guys have soem problem and cant enjoy it. 5 stars
1/23/02 mikkogwapo the entertaaaaaaaaaaaining...thats the bottom line..isn't it?..... 5 stars
1/16/02 Andrew Carden Quite Good...Hackman's Performance Was Excellent. 4 stars
1/15/02 en f~##ing all right 5 stars
1/10/02 malcolm cool shit, Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman? good enough for me 4 stars
1/08/02 Splard good damn movie, what the fuck is wrong with you sell out movie review bitches 5 stars
1/03/02 Mercury, because it's cool Sorta exagerated, especially at the end, Otherwise, there's a lot of action and suspense. 4 stars
1/02/02 Kelly Young This movie rocked my world 5 stars
12/27/01 Gene Hackman is a fucking hottie. My name is Bill Dawson. I teach Chemistry at Midview High School. If there are any hot guys out there. 458-5327 is my # 1 stars
12/20/01 David Snow I can't believe crap like this still gets made. 1 stars
12/17/01 Mills Not that Bad, I've seen better 4 stars
12/16/01 spaceworm Gene Hackman was in it, so it can't suck complete ass. 2 stars
12/14/01 Private Pyle Could have used more action 3 stars
12/13/01 G-Man Best action movie since........COPLAND!! 1 stars
12/11/01 Jason This was one of the worst movies I have ever seen... 1 stars
12/11/01 Xalt Flaming propaganda delivered by greedy suits. 1 stars
12/11/01 several commas good stuff 5 stars
12/10/01 Trunks You guy's suck I love this movie go suck on a loy pop with mommy 5 stars
12/10/01 Renee Blandford this was an awesome movie, no matter what the critics say. 5 stars
12/10/01 Nastaran FUCKING AWESOME....what more can you say? 5 stars
12/09/01 Marcus Where's my AK47? I'd get the fucker! lol What crap 1 stars
12/09/01 derek deems this film was absolutly terrible. it tries to be the stupidest film ever made. 1 stars
12/08/01 Jim Crap. Crap. Crap. Iron Eagle meets Missing in Action 1 stars
12/08/01 rutt13 entertaining, if a little melodramatic 4 stars
12/07/01 leon russom great action flick 5 stars
12/06/01 Dr. Zachary Smith on numerous close-ups of mr. wilson, plaque was clearly visible on his 2 front teeth. 2 stars
12/04/01 Obi Wan What happened?Movie starts very good, but I expected Marines in end & got HollyWood! 3 stars
12/02/01 marayqw sanhao 5 stars
12/02/01 ajay Owen can only be *one* character which is lame. The ending is so hollywood, it's laughable 3 stars
12/02/01 Superdave Ending sucks, but the first 3/4 are really good 4 stars
12/02/01 The Boy In The Designer Bubble Anything with Owen Wilson is bound to be bad! 1 stars
12/01/01 Mr Math Oh man, this is cheese whiz. 1 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  30-Nov-2001 (PG-13)



Directed by
  John Moore

Written by
  Zak Penn

  Gene Hackman
  Owen Wilson
  David Keith
  Gabriel Macht
  Shane Johnson
  Vladimir Mashkov

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast