de: B -
Lieutenant Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) is one heck of a guy. When he gets done with his stint in the Navy, he's sure to be the next great American superhero.
This guy is virtually invincible, so he doesn't need a fancy bulletproof costume, and whatever he shoots at instantly dies, so he doesn't need any superpowers. If he doesn't get the job as superhero, he'd sure make a great action figure.
We first meet Burnett as he's powering down from yet another failed attempt to take off in his Navy F/A-18 Superhornet jet and get into the war action over Bosnia.
Burnett, frustrated from lack of warmongering opportunities, presents Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman) with a letter asking to be reassigned, which only serves to tick-off the admiral.
Immediately thereafter, Burnett gets an assignment for what is supposed to be a routine reconnaissance mission. Naturally, things get a little out of hand when Burnett's jet flies over the no-fly zone.
After a pretty spectacular cat and mouse chase between the Superhornet and a couple of missiles, the jet is destroyed and Burnett and his copilot eject over enemy territory.
The entire remaining footage of this film could have been avoided if Burnett had refrained from calling attention to himself when enemy soldiers execute his wounded pal. They didn't even know he was there, but after he bellows out in surprise, all of the bad-guy forces are hot on his tail.
The objective quickly becomes to get rescued, but all of Admiral Reigart's notions of rescue on behalf of Burnett are foiled by NATO authorities.
NATO Admiral Piquet, played by Joaquim de Almeida, seems to have an agenda of his own which keeps Reigart on the walkie-talkie and out of the rescue helicopter until the last few minutes of the film.
There are some really extraordinary scenes in this movie, and a couple of cool twists. Take for instance, the scene where Burnett falls asleep after being endlessly pursued by a maniacal tracker who's keeping Burnett in the crosshairs.
In this scene, Burnett is leaning against a tree and dozing off when he is jolted awake by a vivid recollection of his friend being shot - the sound of his friend's voice calling his name reverberates in his mind.
All this is just in the nick of time as the tracker is about to take Burnett out from across the field. A very well executed moment, if you'll pardon the pun.
However, there's a trail of improbabilities throughout this film that's hard to ignore.
And, even though Burnett's trek through Bosnian territory looks pretty harrowing and terribly unpleasant, we don't really realize how much fun he is actually having until he crumples up his request to be transferred in the end.
Probably it was that scene where he had to burrow under long dead corpses of women and children lying in a foul puddle in the ditch that proved the turning point for this brave American soldier.
The whole story would have been much more appealing to me if that last 15 minutes was rewritten to exclude the necessity of the `invincible' American's plowing down so many people.
If you're looking for an action flick that you can't take seriously at all, Behind Enemy Lines is a good film to take in. Just be prepared to deal with the shortcomings and you won't be disappointed.
**** Behind Enemy Lines is rated PG-13 for war violence and some language