Clever casting and sensible plotting make Behind Enemy Lines an above-average army thriller. Perfectly timed to bolster US patriotism, the film is partly set (throughout a hypothetical “day after tomorrow”) on the airplane carrier USS Carl Vinson, which was on alert status in the Persian Gulf when that film was released theatrically in the States. Proving his versatility as an unconventional film star, Owen Wilson plays a navy navigator who is shot down over Bosnia throughout a reconnaissance mission. Pursued by insurgent Serbian forces, Wilson need to fight for survival whilst 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 couple techniques from Saving Private Ryan whilst adding impressive flourishes of his personal. The gung-ho ending’s a foregone conclusion, but it works like a allure after the film’s exciting game of cat and mouse.–Jeff Shannon
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