Behind Enemy Lines (2001)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Behind Enemy Lines</strong> (2001)

(In theaters, December 2001) Sometimes, it looks as if some Americans are happiest when they’re shooting at a clearly-defined enemy. At least that’s the lesson I got from Behind Enemy Lines, a military thriller that, in retrospect, clearly shows what kind of dangerous enemy Osama Bin-Laden woke up in September 2001: An aggressive giant with a trigger-happy finger and a thirst for a really bad guy. But then again, I’m reading way too much in what is, after all, an excuse for action sequences. As such, the film succeeds well: The aerial dogfight is one of the best such sequences I recall seeing, and there are a pair of action scenes later in the film that rival anything else seen this year on cinema screens. Owen Wilson manages to go from comedy to action quite effectively with this role, embodying an everyman quality that makes him more endearing than a actor like, say, Vin Diesel would have been. The film is directed with appropriate nervousness, though the various techniques used by first-time director John Moore eventually smack more of desperation than of inspiration. The techno-fetishist detail (like the hyper-detailed ejection sequence) is consistent with the written technothrillers. There are a few stupid moments, though, such as when an entire army shoots at the good guy… who escapes unscathered. I had a good time, but your mileage might vary given your political stance and/or your tolerance for action movies in which American military force is ultimately the best answer.

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