The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 27th

Yet Another War Movie Fails to Rescue Itself

Behind Enemy Lines

"Behind Enemy Lines" is an excellent 30-minute movie.

Pity that it's surrounded by 75 minutes of crap.

As the title suggests, "Behind Enemy Lines" sees disillusioned Navy navigator Lt. Chris Burnett shot down over Bosnia.

Gene Hackman plays Adm. Reigart, Burnett's crusty superior who is faced with the usual Hollywood problem of obeying stupid orders or risking all to save his pilot.

Burnett (played by Owen Wilson, who is not Tom Cruise) leads Serbian forces on a merry chase through some jaw-dropping Slavic terrain, dodging booby traps, battles and a deadly Bosnian sniper in his race to escape execution.

The sequences of Burnett sneaking around the war-ravaged Bosnian landscape offer some of the movie's finest points and vividly portray the suffering of civilians in war zones.

If the writers had focused more on the plight of Bosnia or Burnett's trek to safety, it would have been a fantastic film in the vein of "The Killing Fields" or "Bat 21."

Sadly, "Behind Enemy Lines" fails to focus on one topic, instead becoming a muddled, confused pseudo-epic.

Is it a war movie, genocide awareness film or Navy recruitment commercial?

The answer lies nebulously -- and frustratingly -- somewhere in the middle.

Wilson almost succeeds at creating a believable character out of Burnett. But the pilot-on-the-run story has been done, and Wilson adds nothing new to the genre.

His radio conversations with Hackman vary from almost believable (an angry Wilson demanding to be picked up) to simply stupid (a calm Wilson cracking bad jokes over the airwaves, with his would-be rescuers smiling dutifully on cue).

And excepting a few surprises, the whole movie is nauseatingly predictable: The rescue is called off, Hackman has to risk his career to pull his man out, and so on.

Even the camera work is repetitive and annoying.

The hand-held perspective is used far too much to be anything more than tiresome.

And the editors seem obsessed with the "pause" button, constantly stopping the action at pivotal moments.

"Behind Enemy Lines" fails to live up to the potential generated by a few well-done scenes, and the repetitiveness of the plot makes the audience wonder if the projectionist has the film in reverse by mistake.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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