"Behind Enemy Lines" is a fist-pumping, inspirational, patriotic flick made all the more relevant and poignant by recent events in Afghanistan. It recounts the story of a disillusioned navigator, Burnett, (Owen Wilson) and his co-pilot's ill-fated reconaissance mission. The duo are flying over what is, ostensibly, a neutral, ceasefire zone when they are shot down as they film the most heinous of wartime atrocities : genocide. The co-pilot is subsequently shot by Serbian troops and from then on, Owen Wilson is on the run as he endeavors to evade hostile troops, treacherous minefields, and a relentless assassin in the seemingly vain hope of being rescued by his commanding officer, Reigart ( played to self-righteous perfection by Gene Hackman). "Behind Enemy Lines" effectively conveys the carnage of war as well as the inherent duplicity of hidden political agendas without being inordinately heavy-handed. After all, this flick will have you on the edge of your seat as you watch the cat and mouse game unfold – can Owen Wilson defy the seemingly insurmountable odds and survive long enough to be recused or will the he perish and along with him, the knowledge/evidence of those unimaginably horrific war crimes?
Behind Enemy Lines
The title tells the story: Top naval aviator, Lieutenant Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) and his associate, Lt. Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht) are shot down by a surface-to-air missile (SAM) while flying an F/A-18 fighter jet in a routine reconnaissance mission in war-torn Bosnia. Meanwhile, back on the aircraft carrier, the control room has lost contact with the pilots, and Commander Reigart (Gene Hackman) is frantically trying to organize a rescue team. The film is loosely based on the real-life incident of air force pilot Lt. Scott O'Grady who was shot down in enemy territory and later rescued by the American military. Therein ends the similarity, and the rest, is good old U.S. action-adventure pyrotechnics, executed remarkably well, and supported by an apt screenplay and good cast. The difference between Behind Enemy Lines and the usual American jingoistic military formula on celluloid, is the state-of-the-art effects created by director Moore, who used "every trick in the book" to get what he wanted. The heart-pounding scene of the F-18 relentlessly chased by a SAM gets topgun marks as far as aerial film action goes. America is badly in need of heroes at this tender juncture in their patriotic history and recruiting Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson as the clever and likable bravehearts did the trick. Just ask the sailors at Naval Air Station North Island, California, if this was a hats-off world premiere for them!