Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button
If you haven't guessed already, I'm fond of the odd action movie (or twelve)! People can mock me for my fondness of the Nic Cage classics (The Rock, Face/Off etc) but I really couldn't care less. Cinema for me has always been about entertainment, and entertainment doesn't come in a much nicer package than a good ole' Hollywood blockbuster! Step up Behind Enemy Lines. Released just after September 11th, the film was a surprising success….perhaps the pick me up everyone needed after such a tragic event.

Behind Enemy Lines
Action movies aren't renowned for strong storylines, and I’m pleased to inform you that this film doesn’t change things! Owen Wilson plays Chris Burnett, a flight navigator stationed aboard the USS Carl Vinson. With the ship being anchored just off the coast of Bosnia, Burnett finds himself knee deep in routine, reconnaissance mission after reconnaissance mission. He’s not a happy bunny. On the verge of jacking it all in for good, Burnett is convinced (forced) to do one last mission….

Assigned to another photographic mission over Bosnia, it is not long till Burnett and pilot Stackhouse run into some irregularities. Not only are they provided with some dodgy co-ordinates by the US intelligence agency, but they also pickup illegal activity in the demilitarised zone. Despite initial apprehension, they decide to take a low level flight over the area to take some photographs of the action. It is then that things begin to go pear shaped. A missile (SAM) locks onto the FA/18 aircraft and fires. In a truly impressive display of computer generated effects we are then treated to a lengthy missile chase sequence as we see Burnett and Stackhouse flying like a bat out of hell battling to save their aircraft and their lives. Unfortunately, as you can probably guess from the title, the plane is destroyed, but not before both pilot and co-pilot eject to the danger lurking below – behind enemy lines.

Behind Enemy Lines is a great action film, but little more. If you’re looking for a realistic, gritty war movie on the lines of Saving Private Ryan or We Were Soldiers you will find yourself bitterly disappointed. I outlined the storyline above, and that’s just about all of it. As soon as they touch down, it becomes little more than a day out at the racetrack……with lots of running, and jumping….and any other necessary manouver to avoid the incoming fire. This is not to discredit the film though, it’s still thoroughly entertaining, and watching a bloke running has never been so fun! There are a number of impressive action set pieces throughout the movie, not least of which the initial missile chase that I have already mentioned. You can also look forward to Burnett hop, skipping and jumping his way through a heavily mined industrial complex, dodging ridiculous amounts of bullets during an onslaught by Huey helicopters and everything else in between!

Behind Enemy Lines
Performances are on the whole pretty good for an action movie. The big name that I haven’t mentioned yet is of course Gene Hackman who plays Burnett’s commanding officer Leslie Reigart. Unfortunately, Hackman has very little material to work with here, and as such his performance is hardly something that he’s going to be remembered for. I had read that Hackman agreed to the role merely as a favour for the young director but I’m not sure whether that is infact true. Owen Wilson also puts out a pretty good performance, though he does come across as every other Owen Wilson character you’ve probably seen him play!

Overall, Behind Enemy Lines is a comprehensive little action movie. It delivers on the action, provides bucket loads of suspense, and is boosted further by the performances. One wonders if this film would have done nearly as well without Hackmans name being on the credits, but that doesn’t really matter. If you fancy a good nights entertainment, this could well be the film for you.

Behind Enemy Lines is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2:35.1 and yep, it’s anamorphic. There’s very little to criticise with this transfer really. Colours are sharp and vibrant with flesh tones in particular being exactly as they should be. The only complaint you can really levy is the edge enhancement which is at times pretty noticeable. This also plagued the region 1 release of the film, so it’s not a region 2 only issue.

Behind Enemy Lines
This is where the DVD really comes into its own. As you would imagine, an action movie such as this really demands a good soundtrack, and boy does Fox deliver with this one! Included with the DVD are both dts and Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks, and both pack a real punch. At times you will feel literally strapped into the cockpit of a supersonic fighter jet…..and if you don’t……the neighbours certainly will!

The surrounds are also put to good use with gunfire echoing from practically every direction imaginable. A problem that often plagues tracks like these though is the clarity of speech…thankfully that isn’t a problem here with dialogue being clear and concise at all times. You’ve done us proud here Fox.

Extras wise we get a reasonable selection, but nothing to write home about. First up we have a ‘Behind the Scenes Featurette’ which runs to a little over 5minutes 30. The featurette focuses primarily on the military backing of the film, and gives a brief glimpse of how the cast and crew worked around the daily workings of the ship.

Next up are a helping of deleted and alternative scenes.  There are 7 in all, each coming with an optional commentary from director John Moore and editor Paul Martin Smith. These are all presented in non anamorphic widescreen. Perhaps the most interesting of the deleted scenes is the Original End Credit Sequence which is accompanied by some music from Gladiator. I'm guessing that it wasn't included in the final cut because it wasn't the uplifting end that everyone would have expected.

Behind Enemy Lines
Another nice inclusion on the disc is the Pre-Vis Ejection sequence which is a combination of computer graphics and storyboard techniques. This runs to just over 5 minutes and gives a fascinating insight into just how much planning goes into a film such as this. You can also switch on an optional commentary with the director and editor which is a pretty light hearted affair but at least it isn’t boring like so many others these days.  

Completing the disc are two commentaries. The first one is again with director John Moore and editor Martin Smith. This is a pretty fun commentary to listen to, as you can tell that they enjoy reflecting on the movie. However, as they declare at the start of the commentary…..they both have bad colds which can be a little distracting at times! The commentary is very informative though, and they both provide a wealth of information. I particularly found interesting how they had to work around the carrier crew whilst filming, and also the studios reluctance to hire a first time director for a production on the scale of Behind Enemy Lines. The second commentary is with the films producers John Davis and Wyck Godfrey who primarily discuss the technical side of the film making process. It will also give you a better understanding of what exactly a producer does during a production……the answer is….a hell of a lot!

Behind Enemy Lines
Overall this is a pretty decent package. The film isn’t a classic but provides a good couple of hours of entertainment. The technical side of the disc is very good on the whole, with a reference quality sound mix that should keep even the fussiest of sound enthusiasts happy. Rounding up the package is a pretty healthy selection of extras, with the 2 commentaries being the most welcome addition.