A disillusioned navy pilot crashes behind enemy lines in Bosnia and has to survive long enough to report the atrocities he has evidence of. Can he evade capture and rediscover his love for the good ol’ U-S-of-A before it’s too late? Find out in… Behind Enemy Lines.
What?! Lt. Chris Burnett is fed up. He’s fed up with just sitting around while peace is negotiated in the Bosnian War, he’s fed up with his asshole boss Admiral Reigart, and he’s goddamn fed up with flying pointless reconnaissance missions on Christmas Day! That’s why he’s put in his resignation letter and, phew, just a couple more days and he won’t have to deal with it anymore. What could go wrong? Well shortly thereafter his plane goes off course (not his fault), inadvertently takes some pictures of some war crimes (oops), gets blown out of the sky (boy howdy, talk about a rough day), and his co-pilot is killed by Serbian soldiers (that got dark). Now he’s stuck behind enemy lines and America, handcuffed by bullshit peace or whatever, can’t go in and roast some dudes in lethal combat in order to save him (woooooooo, war!). What follows is a long footrace across the mountains of Bosnia with Serbians in hot pursuit. He has some zany adventures falling into mass graves, getting shot at by a sniper, and eventually joining up with some Coca-Cola toting, hip hop spouting Bosnian insurgents who help him to his destination. Finally, just when Burnett retrieves some valuable evidence of war crimes, he is rescued personally by Reigart who is all like “Bet you love America now. How about we just forget about all that resignation shit.” And they laugh and laugh and laugh (mostly so they don’t cry over all the human beings that have killed in the process of the film). THE END.
Why?! To live. In some ways it’s the motivation underlying every movie we watch (that’s deep, Jamie). Thank you. But seriously, Burnett kinda sucks but has to put all that whiny bullshit aside in order to survive and deliver justice for the war crimes he witnessed. The Serbians want to cover up all those war crimes, which is why they desperately want to snuff out Burnett. It’s a real cat and mouse game here.
What?! This has one of the greatest and most unexpected gratuitous product placements in BMT history. We get Owen Wilson, dehydrated and exhausted, picked up by a truck filled with Bosnian fighters. He begs for some water, but they don’t have any. All they have is some delicious Coca-Cola. He takes a sip and smiles, “it’s good,” he says. Oh, it’s good all right.
Who?! We get a “special thanks” credit for Phil Strub. Who’s that? Why he’s the entertainment liaison for the Department of Defense and by all accounts controls Hollywood’s access to anything military. The article suggests that this dude actually has some influence on the portrayal of the military in film to the point of requesting and getting script changes. Sounds like an amazing job, when do I start?
Where?! Just misses the coveted A+. If only it were called Behind Bosnian Lines. While a terrible title, they would have had the satisfaction of getting the top grade on our website, which is read by tens of people (probably… I don’t know. Might be single digits). A.
When?! Secret Holiday Film Alert! Tis the season to be jolly, because we got Xmas in May up in here. Just when Burnett is heading off for his mission he is lamenting the fact that they are the only crew flying on Christmas Day. The mission is an act of revenge to punish his bad ‘tude. I’m gonna go ahead and give it an A. Not in the title, but vital to the plot in an unexpected way.
We’ve been watching a number of 30-40% RT films lately and I have appreciated seeing what makes them different from the <30% dregs that we are usually watching. The direction, editing, music, and general pro-war stance should have pulled this film lower… and yet it didn’t. Why? I think it was because it was eminently watchable. It was like a Michael Bay film except not 5 hours long and I genuinely enjoyed myself. Maybe that’s what buoyed it up to the the higher edge of BMT. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! What happens when you decide to construct a film entirely out of military stock footage, slow motion shots of Owen Wilson running, and explosions? Let’s go!
The Good – This movie is not that bad, which I guess shouldn’t be that surprising since the Rotten Tomatoes score isn’t that bad. It flies along at a decent pace, Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman are serviceable to solid throughout, and the story is at least pretty interesting (if ludicrous). It is a bad military film, but it is a fine action film, which is a compliment … I think.
P’s View on the Preview – All of my bad movie hopes and bad movie dreams were tied up in the direction of this film. Everything I read basically suggested two reasons for the bad reviews. The first was just the jingoistic nature of the whole affair, which is often unpalatable to critics. The second though was the frenetic direction which often seemed to go from quick cut incomprehensibility to just multiple versions of Owen Wilson running in slow motion. So mainly I hoped that the direction was so bonkers that it pulled this film from a boring not-great war film to something special.
The Bad – And it kind of did, the direction and soundtrack very obviously sunk the film. Reflecting on the more recent 30-40% Rotten Tomatoes the films tend to be much more tolerable that the truly dire films below 30%. Monte Carlo is a decent example, it is of a cloying teen romantic comedy, but that is kind of the only thing that makes it bad. Here the direction is quite distracting and the soundtrack is just insane. As I said this makes for a shitty military movie, but a tolerable action movie. It does one or two things right, one or two things wrong, let’s call it a draw.
Get Yo Rant On – Was there a point in time when having the bad guys in film be the international peacekeepers was in fashion? The feckless international commander (who they only heavily implied had some shadowy agreement to hide genocide) was from France, and could not have been more in the way. I cannot help but think it has at least something to do with the tacit agreement the film crew and the military struck to get those sweet aircraft carrier shots. Blatant jingoism is as American as, well … military movies I suppose. Little did the director know that Michael Bay had already perfected the art of bending over backwards for sweet military shots with his smash critical hit Pearl Harbor the same year. Rant over.
The BMT – Unfortunately no. But it was interesting to see what is considered to be a late-90s / early 00s bad war film. War films, if they aren’t Sci-Fi (*cough* Battleship *cough*) seem to rarely be very very bad. So it fills a niche there for sure.
Welcome to Earf – Easy one this week. Behind Enemy Lines stars Owen Wilson who was in I Spy with Eddie Murphy who was in Norbit with Terry Crews who was in Blended with Adam Sandler who was in Jack and Jill with Al Pacino who was in 88 Minutes with Leelee Sobieski who was in Here on Earth. Welcome to Earf! There probably is an alternative non-I-Spy path to take, but I couldn’t find it organically.
StreetCreditReport.com – Nope. None. It wasn’t even close to making lists for 2001, but also I couldn’t find a single example in specifically lists concerning war films. Turns out the hatred for The Patriot, Pearl Harbor, and Revolution (you remember Revolution … starring Al Pacino … yeah me neither) is strooooong. Such is life, sometimes you just have to check those boxes.
No homework again, but soon, I can feel it. Soon I’ll be reading some terrible book for BMT.