"Behind Enemy Lines"
Directed by John Moore.
Written by David Veloz and Zak Penn.
Starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 12/6/01
I talked to my dad this morning while he was
driving around the lovely state of New York, and he called only to
tell me one thing:
He had just read my “Bacon of the Month”
essay. And, he loved it. He loved it so much that he was laughing
hysterically throughout. This is big news to me—one, because he
doesn't read all of them, but two, because the funniest guy I know
thought it was funny. Funny was always a big deal in my household,
and it has led to my brother, father and I regularly making jokes
about whatever we can get our hands on. For those of you that have
met Dave Bell, you know that just Dave's laugh alone will usually
have you rolling. Winning Dave over takes some time, though, with
these essays, so I'll take Dad for now and move to the bro later!
Anyway, I went to a matinee this afternoon
at the Sony Metreon theater in downtown San Francisco. The theater
itself features the now-standard “stadium seating” arrangement and
ridiculously loud Dolby Digital surround sound system. Blah, blah.
The most important thing about the Metreon is that it has more video
games than you can shake a stick at. And, with a Sony PlayStation
store on the lobby level of the theater, you even have free video
games you can play before or after a film. Heaven.
The movie wasn't quite as good as the
Metreon. Owen Wilson (“Bottle Rocket”,
“Shanghai Noon”) stars as
Lt. Burnett, renegade Navy navigations officer that has to fly one
last recon mission in order to get out of the service. You see, he
has grown sick of waiting around for the action with his longtime
pilot, Lt. Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht), so he has put in his two
weeks' notice. (Personally, I didn't know that Naval officers can
put in a two-week notice. I just thought they put their stuff in a
bag and blew out of there!) Naturally, when his commanding officer
(Gene Hackman) sends him on this recon mission over Bosnia, he
doesn't think that Burnett will get into trouble. But, he does,
getting his pilot killed and sending him on a wild ride through the
Yes, you have heard this plot before. And,
with Hackman dialing it in (clearly he was working harder in last
month's “Heist” than this drivel) and Wilson being...Wilson, the
acting could be a little better. What is it, exactly, that got
Wilson this role? Every time I see Wilson onscreen, I expect him to
be whining. Luckily, he does whine a lot in this movie, but you
can't tell because of that thing with his nose. OWEN WILSON'S NOSE
IS A DISTRACTION. It makes you just want to lean over to somebody
and ask, “Why doesn't my man get a nose job or something?” I mean,
I can't watch him without thinking about it.
So, rookie director John Moore does a great
job of not focusing so much on Wilson, but on a good mix of Wilson
running around through the woods, Bosnian soldiers tracking him and
following Hackman as he curses his way through the script. And,
Moore's style (not so much *his*, as *MTV's*) keeps the pace lively
and a good mix of music keeps you interested. Also, I'll admit it:
I'm a guy, and I like watching shit blow up.
And, shit blows up real good in “Behind
Enemy Lines.” I would have preferred that Wilson go Rambo and
actually return fire every so often, but instead he tries to outrun
missiles, tank shells, howitzer fire, sniper shells and machine gun
salvos. But stuff was blowing up, so I shut my mind off and tried
to get the most out of the theater's sound system!
The classic Matinee: Not great, but not bad
either. Good for a Saturday afternoon in a theater, but the film
takes advantage of a great sound system, so don't bother with this
on video unless you are hooked up at home.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard