Behind Enemy Lines

Directed by John Moore
Starring: Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, David Keith.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for war violence and some language.

Review by Matt Heffernan <>
February 16, 2002

When I saw Behind Enemy Lines, it was already on its last few breaths in the theatres. It was at a late-night screening in a struggling cineplex -- the only show it was playing, and just days before it was gone. That was a month and a half ago. So why am I writing this now? One word: dedication.

Oh yes, that is the operative word here. Making it through the film requires a great deal of dedication as well. Owen Wilson plays a fighter pilot who is shot down and stranded, you guessed it, behind enemy lines. Despite orders from the top brass to let him make it out on his own or die, Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman) insists on bringing his boy home.

In the process, there are a lot of explosions, heightened moments of intra-military conflict, and countless Arab-looking extras. The film made a decent amount of money thanks to enthusiasm over the current war, which piqued the public's appetite for such grand theatricality in the depiction of combat. Yet the film still manages to move at a slow pace, which, when combined with the shallow characterizations, makes for a boring film. It may have been promoted as a thrill-ride popcorn-movie type of event, but it was just a plodding disappointment.

In two months, it will be available on video, but I would have to recommend against it. The more impressive sequences will be neutered on the small screen, likely making the film even more unbearable to watch.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
Behind Enemy Lines (2001)

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Review © 2002 Matt Heffernan