Behind Enemy Lines
Starring:
Owen Wilson, Gene Hackman
Directed By :
John Moore
Grade C

In Owen Wilson's last scene on screen, closure is granted his story with a caption that reads "Chris Burnett stayed in the Navy". This did little to enrich my overall feeling for the movie, and I found myself saying "Oh yeah, he wanted to quit." Behind Enemy Lines is a war movie focused around one guy, but the problem here is that nobody really cares about him.

Owen Wilson plays Chris Burnett, a Navy soldier whose personality can best be described as, well, Owen Wilson. He kinda has the same likable hesitance in his voice that Topher Grace (Eric from That 70s Show) has. Problem is, that makes him really hard to take seriously. Seeing as he's running for his life most of the movie, that's something that really needs to be done, especially since he's onscreen almost the whole time. There are no subplots here. No underlying message is given, and there's not even a moving score to tell you when you should be feeling proud.

That was my main problem. Dramas that work for me are dramas that stir my emotions. There's a neat little twist at the end of the movie where Burnett basically gets left behind in Bosnia. I liked that ending. I kept thinking of dramatic ways they could kill him that would end the movie with a tear in my eye. This is attributed to the fact that I really didn't care what happened to him, and I wanted this movie to end with a surprise, like the ending we didn't expect. It's the same as when you hope the team in your sports movie will lose, just to shock you. Well, it almost happened, but then it didn't. While I was pleased to see America wax some Europeans, even that scene was ruined (in my opinion) with the really crappy music as the helicopters flew the heroine home.

There's more. Gene Hackman sits in the aircraft carrier waiting to do something, but he's not even entertaining in his impatience. The reasons for not doing anything just kind of resurface whenever the audience forgets why nobody's getting Burnett RIGHT NOW. Stackhouse, the first casualty, dies before you even know his first name, or anything about him. To me, the death just happened so Owen Wilson could run around by himself like on the movie trailers. I guess it was to show the Bosnian brutality, but if we don't care about the guy they killed, it doesn't help much.

That's the problem with this movie. Everything is done with no emotion. It's hard to take Owen Wilson seriously, and while I was glad it wasn't a blockbuster dramatic actor in this role (i.e. Hanks or Gibson), I would have liked someone who could be pitied.

Then there's the music. It mixes from unnecessary rock songs to techno to Hans Zimmer-like scores to some Bob Dylan-esque songs, and none of them seem to fit. There are many scenes with the computers that are cool, and the techno music gives Owen Wilson's constant running (that's really all he does) a funky vibe. But his situation isn't really meant to be cool . . . and it doesn't work.

All in all, this is a mediocre movie that, in the right hands, could have been really great. But it was so simple there was nothing to feel and nobody to feel for. It just moved from Point A to Point B - ironic since Owen Wilson actually goes in a full circle, and that doesn't work for me. Big ups to the potential, the thumbs down to the result.

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