Behind Enemy Lines

Updated June 26, 2020 | Infoplease Staff
Director:John Moore
Writers:David Veloz and Zak Penn
20th Century Fox; PG-13; 93 minutes
Cast:Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman, Gabriel Macht

As many anti-U.S. agitators like to forget and many pro-U.S. Americans fail to remember, the recent war in Bosnia is an example of U.S. military forces intervening to protect Muslims from massacre by Christians. Behind Enemy Lines doesn't explore the politics of its questionable rendering of this situation. It solely wants to be a gritty-yet-slick war movie; that it takes place during the Bosnian conflict is incidental.

Director John Moore weaves a jingoistic mix of realism and cliché in this tale of a downed airman (Owen Wilson) trying to evade Serbian attackers and return to the safety of the U.S.-NATO side. Gene Hackman plays his commander, a sharp old fox who's rescue attempt defies a French NATO official.

Behind Enemy Lines is loud, but not blaring. Moore's visual intelligence, coupled with deft editing, enlivens the material. A gripping execution belies the thinness of its script. As for the actors, Hackman graces the screen with reliably formidable skill. Wilson's struggle for life verges on the unbelievable but his blandly American aura compliments the role.

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