What the hell is going on this holiday movie season? I’m expecting to see two or three Oscar contenders per week, and this week, all I get to see is some piece of shit action movie, Behind Enemy Lines.
This is shit. Major, colossal shit. It’s a film that accomplishes the seemingly impossible task of making Gene Hackman look like one of the worst actors to ever walk the Earth. It’s a film that will make you forget that its star, Owen Wilson, is part of the writing team that brought you Bottle Rocket and Rushmore. It’s a film that reminds you that in a world of great talent and lots of money, bad, bad things can still happen.
The movie should actually be called Run, Owen, Run, because that’s the only real image that it implants in your head. Wilson’s character, a disgruntled Navy pilot, is shot down with his co-pilot in Bosnia while on a recon mission after seeing something they shouldn’t have seen. His buddy meets an untimely end, and Owen starts running and running and running, stopping for a few wise-assed quips at his commanding officers, and then takes off running again.
As he runs, a mean-assed psycho listed in the credits as The Tracker, decked out in some Adidas rip-off workout suit, follows him at a cool, leisurely pace, smoking cigs, looking mean and inexplicably knowing Wilson’s every move. Never mind that Wilson is often running at top speed. The script says The Tracker will be able to keep up utilizing his cool-cat casual stride, and that’s the way it is.
This is the type of movie that makes Rambo look plausible. Wilson dodges bullets, mortars, land mines, bottles, Wiffle balls, small birds, anything lobbed at him, without taking a single shot. Many soldiers firing off all means of automatic weapons can’t even wing the guy. Wilson is nimble enough to dodge a bullet and outrun mortars, but he can’t outrun some guy pursuing him who’s practically sitting down.
I don’t like it when a movie has me rooting for somebody to get shot, but I must admit, one bullet in Wilson’s ass would’ve provided at least temporary relief. I don’t need the boy mortally wounded—I just want one bullet in his buttocks, far away from anything vital. One wound would’ve made this film far less ridiculous.
As for Hackman as Admiral Reigert, he spends the majority of the film on an aircraft carrier acting all bunched-up, because the powers that be won’t let him go rescue his boy. First-time director John Moore lets you know Hackman’s on a high-tech aircraft carrier by surrounding him with all sorts of monitors and blippy things, constantly bathed in blue light, looking like a Blue Man Group reject.
Behind Enemy Lines is so sloppy, you can see the makeup caked on the actors’ faces. Once I spot makeup on multiple naval officers’ mugs, any sense of realism is lost on me, unless we’re talking about one wild and crazy boat.
As I stated just last week in this column, I hate Top Gun. This movie, in part, wants to be Top Gun for the new millennium, but instead of Tom Cruise we get Wilson, and instead of Val Kilmer, we get the guy who strung himself up naked in An Officer and a Gentleman. Instead of Berlin and Kenny Loggins, we get some techno crap pounding away on the soundtrack. It’s a sad state of affairs when you find yourself longing for Kenny Loggins.
Junk like Behind Enemy Lines just makes me angry. Now I’m in a bad mood just thinking about. There’s no way he wouldn’t take just one piece of lead in his ass. No way!