Fighter navigator Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) wants out of the Navy: he was looking for something more than boring recon missions he's been flying. He finds himself the lone Christmas day mission over war-torn Bosnia. But, when he talks pilot Stackhouse into flying slightly off-course to check out an interesting target, the two get shot down. Burnett is soon alone, trying to outrun a pursuing army, while commanding officer Reigert (Gene Hackman) finds his rescue operation hamstrung by politics, forcing Burnett to run far out of his way.
Smart casting and sensible plotting make
Behind Enemy Lines an above-average military thriller. Perfectly timed to bolster patriotism, the film is partly set (during a hypothetical "day after tomorrow") on the aircraft carrier U.S.S.
Carl Vinson, which was on alert status in the Persian Gulf when this film was released. Proving his versatility as an unconventional movie star, Owen Wilson plays a navy navigator who is shot down over Bosnia during a reconnaissance mission. Pursued by rebel Serbian forces, Wilson must fight for survival while his commanding officer (Gene Hackman) plots a daredevil rescue. After a successful career in TV commercials, Irish director John Moore makes a promising feature debut on Slovakian locations, borrowing a few techniques from
Saving Private Ryan while adding impressive flourishes of his own. The gung-ho ending's a foregone conclusion, but it works like a charm after the movie's exciting game of cat and mouse.
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