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Director John Moore uses special camera rigs, varied shutter speed, multiple cameras, low camera setups, and documentary style filmmaking to capture a “you are there” feel to Burnett’s predicament. He also makes a special effort to capture the violent, unpredictable world in which the young lieutenant finds himself. These things sometimes overwhelm the characters, but Wilson as Burnett and especially Gene Hackman as Admiral Reigart contribute some humanity and fine acting to counter this problem. Regrettably, strong foul language and strong violence spoil this movie’s moral, patriotic and mildly redemptive worldview.
(BB, PPP, C, LLL, VVV, D, M) Moral worldview with strong patriotic, pro-military elements & some redemptive content, including risking one’s life for truth, justice & other people; 36 obscenities including a few “f” words, 12 strong profanities & 2 mild profanities; strong war violence such as missiles chase Navy jet to finally shoot it down, lots of gunfire, tanks shoot shells, helicopters fire missiles, many explosions, land mines explode, images of dead, wounded people with some blood, & man murders POW; no sex; no nudity; no alcohol use; smoking; and, disobeying orders.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES is a white-hot, action-oriented war movie about a U.S. Navy aviator shot down in Bosnia during the Serbian-Bosnia conflict.
Owen Wilson plays Lieutenant Chris Burnett, a navigator who’s upset that a fragile peace agreement won’t let the aviators do anything. “We’re watching, not fighting,” he tells Admiral Reigart who’s in charge of the naval battle group doing the flying and surveillance. During a routine mission, Burnett and his pilot, Stackhouse, photograph a case of genocide by Serbian soldiers, who shoot their plane down. The soldiers capture and execute Stackhouse, and Burnett struggles to survive the ruthless Serbian commander and his relentless tracker. With time running out, Admiral Reigart must decide whether to risk his career, disobey orders and send a rescue team to help Burnett get back safely.
Director John Moore uses special camera rigs, varied shutter speed, multiple cameras, low camera setups, and documentary style filmmaking to capture a “you are there” feel to Burnett’s predicament. Most important of all, however, Moore makes a special effort to capture the violent, unpredictable world in which the young lieutenant finds himself. All of these things tend to overwhelm the characters and the actors, but that’s exactly what the movie seems to be trying to do anyway in portraying Burnett’s precarious situation. Wilson as Burnett and especially Gene Hackman as Admiral Reigart manage to lend some humanity and good acting to the proceedings.
The biggest problems with BEHIND ENEMY LINES are the ultra-war violence and its significant amount of foul language, especially the strong profanities that too often cross the protagonist Burnett’s lips. We hope the studio cuts down on the violence and foul language from the unfinished cut of the movie that we saw, because it is definitely too much for a PG-13 rated movie.
Of course, there is no sane reason why any movie, even one for older audiences, has to include any foul language at all. American and British movies are among the most foul-mouthed movies in the world these days. It’s time for Hollywood and the Motion Picture Association of America to do a much better job at encouraging clean movies. It would be nice to enjoy a comedy or an action movie without hearing all of this gratuitous verbal baggage, which lends ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to the story, the characters or the art of cinema.
There are some moral, redemptive moments in this picture, however. Burnett risks his life for truth and justice, and his rescuers risk their lives to save his life. Also, the statue of an angel, whose face has been damaged by the violent, evil ethnic conflict in Bosnia, becomes an important metaphor in Burnett’s defense of truth and justice. Despite these things, it would have been better if the movie had used the Christian background of the real pilot who was shot down a few years ago in Bosnia.
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