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In this in-name-only sequel to the in-name-only sequel to the 2001 Owen Wilson/ Gene Hackman wartime actioner, the story does not actually revolve around a main character stranded in hostile territory like the other two entries, focusing instead on the Navy SEAL group assigned to rescue a wartime hostage in deepest Colombia and also clear their sullied name after atrocities are committed and blamed upon the squad.

Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia


I have to say right off the bat this movie put me in a bad mood before I even saw it. Not only was the screener disc in circulation rather late in the day, it also had the brass neck to refuse playback on any of my DVD players, so I've actually had to shell out hard earned cash for the retail version in order to review it, and even approaching the counter in HMV, I was scratching my head, wondering why the disc even exists. It really is baffling why anybody thought that two sequels to a second tier Owen Wilson action vehicle were absolutely necessary. Yes, there are far more obscure DTV extensions of films that told the story quite sufficiently in the first film (Hollow Man 2, American Psycho 2 and Timecop: The Berlin Decision spring immediately to mind), but as the original's success was rather middling, it's hard to see who this aimed at. Oh, that's who; WWE fans.

If my action movie addled brain serves me correctly, this is the sixth film from the movie production arm of WWE, who have put out films of, umm, varying quality throughout the years, from the genuinely entertaining, such as The Rundown/ Welcome To The Jungle, through the flawed but enjoyable stuff like The Condemned and then right down to the diabolical (yes, we're looking at you, The Marine). Irrespective of quality, the films really existed to showcase the most charismatic of their wrestling stars (and John Cena), but not having seen WWE regularly in years, I'm totally lost as to whom this film's star, Mr. Kennedy, is. Now, I'm not saying that these films have to feature WWE stars I have heard of and remember all the time, which is probably for the best—I'm not sure people are ready for a hardcore actioner starring Doink—but surely they could have pulled across somebody less dull than this guy. However, to be fair Mr Kennedy isn't the star of the movie, and is simply a member of the military unit the story centres on, so no real harm done.

Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia
So, without a real knockout star, the movie has to stand up by filmmaking chops alone, and sadly the production simply doesn't have the budget to make it anything more than a rental pot-boiler. To be fair, it's not the fault of the direction, which is perfectly acceptable. Glancing at the back of my newly purchased (meh) box, I was surprised to see that the film was directed by Otter from Animal House himself, Tim Matheson. Glancing at the man's IMDb resume, it seems the man has quite an extensive career directing episodic TV such as Burn Notice, and this film does betray his directorial roots in the action sequences, which are TV-style steady and efficient rather than theatrically large and spectacular. However, it could have been directed by James Cameron, and the slim budget would still make this look awful. There is very little in the way of production design, some of the digital effects are appalling and the whole thing looks a lot cheaper than the last entry, Behind Enemy Lines: Axis of Evil.

Although the last film had better production value, Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia tells a better story, and actually delivers more action than last time. There's no denying the fact that this isn't a good film by any stretch, but it's not unwatchable for those who like this type of low rent diversion. Yes, as readers may have noticed before, I'm into DTV action tat, and the highest recommendation I can give is that it sits above guff like the never ending Operation Delta Force series, but not quite as high as nonsense like the Hunt for Eagle One 'franchise'. By no means recommended as a purchase, I guess this is fairly acceptable as a random rental for a particularly forgiving lads’ beer and pizza night in.  

Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia


I'm pretty sure that no matter how much spit and polish Fox lavished upon the DVD transfer, this 1.85:1 image would still look quite rough. It's quite obvious that some low-rent equipment was involved during filming, because everything looks dreadfully washed out, soft and incredibly grainy and messy, and I won't have anybody tell me it's the cinematographer's artistic decision. The image was doomed before the film even entered the mastering room.

Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia


The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack, unlike the video, is pretty solid stuff for this level of movie. Considering this is a direct to DVD movie, Fox delivers a pretty decent action track. Explosions and gunfire rattle around the surrounds, there's some good sub action for the beefier moments, and the track never overstretches itself to become a noisy fudge. Dialogue sits upfront where it should be and is always clear, and the score is never overbearing. Not a bad effort at all.

Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia


Tim Matheson and stars Joe Manganiello  and Mr. Kennedy come together for a fun little commentary, and while there's a fair bit of technical info, the trio's light and energetic banter highlight the fun they apparently had while making the film, and their affection is infectious. The track is actually pretty decent. The second commentary is a 'fan' one from IGN staff, and it's largely pointless and dull. Also included is a decent ‘Making of’ (37 mins), that splits into six individually selectable chapters. On offer are: ‘The Big Guns: Military Action on Film’, ‘Colombia Norte: On Location in Puerto Rico’, ‘The Rockets Red Glare: Explosions Explained’, ’The Art of the Fall: Stunt Secrets’, ‘Comedy in Colombia: Bloopers and Other Relief’, and ‘Stars with Stripes: Casting Joe and Mr. Kennedy’. While it's not the most exhaustive document of a film I've ever seen, there is still far more content than I expected for a film at this level, and the enthusiasm on display almost makes me feel bad about criticizing the movie. Almost.

Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia


Although from a technical standpoint the movie is as rough as old boots, Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia delivers low rent action fodder that hark back to the simpler times of the Cannon Films output from the 80s and early 90s. I would never go as far as saying the film warrants buying, but if you have a free night and a rental DVD membership, this might fill the gap so long as you take it with a pinch of salt and a handful of crisps. Fairly acceptable.