Behind Enemy Lines (2001 film)
|Behind Enemy Lines|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Moore|
|Produced by||John Davis|
|Screenplay by||David Veloz
|Story by||Jim Thomas
|Music by||Don Davis|
|Editing by||Paul Martin Smith|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||106 minutes|
Behind Enemy Lines is a 2001 action and war film directed by John Moore in his directorial debut, and starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. The film tells the story of an American naval flight officer who is shot down over Bosnia and uncovers genocide during the Bosnian War. The plot is loosely based on the 1995 Mrkonjić Grad incident that occurred amid the war. The film was followed by two direct-to-video sequels, Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil and Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia, which was co-produced by WWE Studios. Although it did well commercially, the film received generally negative reviews from critics.
In the final stages of the Bosnian War in 1995, United States Navy flight officer Lieutenant Chris Burnett and pilot Lieutenant Jeremy Stackhouse are assigned a reconnaissance mission. They spot suspicious activity in the demilitarized zone where NATO aircraft and the warring factions are prohibited from engaging in military activity. Burnett persuades Stackhouse to fly their F/A-18 Hornet off-course to get a close look and photograph the target. They are unaware that they have photographed mass graves, and Serb soldiers have seen the jet. The local Bosnian Serb Army commander, General Miroslav Lokar, is conducting a secret genocidal campaign against the local Bosniak population. Not wanting the mass graves to be discovered, Lokar orders that the jet be shot down.
Despite trying to outmaneuver the surface-to-air missiles shot at them, their jet is hit and both men are forced to eject. Shortly after touching ground, a Serb patrol finds Stackhouse and interrogates him. Stackhouse is then executed by Sasha, one of Lokar's men. Burnett, who was observing the Serbs' interrogation of Stackhouse from a hill, flees the area, but exposes his location. Wanting Burnett dead as well, Lokar orders both his deputy, Colonel Bazda, and Sasha to find him. Admiral Leslie Reigart orders Burnett to move to a certain location in order to be extracted. However, Admiral Piquet warns Reigart of the political ramifications of rescuing Burnett in the demilitarized zone. When Burnett reaches the extraction point, Reigart informs him that he must move to another location miles outside of the demilitarized zone in order to be rescued.
Immediately after being informed, Burnett sees a Serb patrol, led by Bazda, looking for him. Running from them, he falls into the mass grave that he and Stackhouse had photographed and hides under a dead body. When the Serbs are out of sight, he continues to run. On his way to the new extraction point, Burnett nearly encounters Sasha, but he finds Bosniak guerrillas in a pickup truck who offer a ride. The guerrillas inform Burnett that they are heading to Hač, which is supposedly a safe haven but turns out to be a war zone. During the battle, Serb troops believe that they have found Burnett's body, but Burnett had switched uniforms with a dead Serb soldier and escaped Hač.
Although they realize that Burnett escaped, Sasha and Lokar present the corpse wearing Burnett's uniform to the media saying he was killed. Their ruse works and a mission to rescue Burnett is aborted just when he gets a view of the helicopter. Burnett then notices the angel statue near where his ejection seat had landed. He returns to his seat and activates the rescue beacon. Though the carrier group notices his signal, Burnett has also alerted the Serbs to his location.
Knowing he risks being relieved of command, Reigart prepares a task force to rescue Burnett. Bazda and Sasha are ordered to find Burnett and kill him, but on their way, Bazda steps on a landmine and is killed. After Sasha finds the ejection seat, Burnett ambushes him and the two men engage in hand-to-hand combat until Burnett stabs Sasha in the chest with a flare, killing him. Lokar arrives with armored vehicles and infantry who open fire on Burnett. Three U.S. Marine Corps helicopters arrive and fire on the Serbs. After retrieving the hard drive containing the photos of the mass graves, Burnett escapes with the task force.
Lokar's war crimes eventually put him on trial in front of the ICTY, while Reigart's actions result in him being relieved of command. Burnett continues his career in the Navy.
- Owen Wilson as Lieutenant Chris Burnett
- Gene Hackman as Rear Admiral Leslie McMahon Reigart
- Gabriel Macht as Lieutenant Jeremy Stackhouse
- Charles Malik Whitfield as Captain Rodway
- David Keith as Master Chief Tom O'Malley
- Olek Krupa as General Miroslav Lokar
- Joaquim de Almeida as Admiral Juan Miguel Piquet
- Vladimir Mashkov as Sasha
- Marko Igonda as Colonel Viktor Bazda
- Eyal Podell as Petty Officer Kennedy
- Geoffrey Pierson as Admiral Donnelly
- Aernout Van Lynden as Himself
The movie was filmed in Slovakia, not in Bosnia and Herzegovina. None of the actors playing Serbians were actually Serbian; the producers said that they hired Croats as interns and instructors to instruct the actors in Serbian language, because they couldn't find any Serbs willing to work on the film, due to perceived anti-Serb sentiment shown in the film. Vladimir Mashkov, the actor who played the Serbian sniper, Saša, is Russian and Olek Krupa, the actor who played the Serbian General, Miroslav Lokar, is Polish. Some Slovaks also participated in the film, such as Marko Igonda, who plays Colonel Bazda, and Kamil Kollarik, who plays a young militant who aids Burnett in Hač.
The USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) was the aircraft carrier featured in the film. Exterior naval footage was filmed on board the carrier. Interiors were filmed on the Carl Vinson, on the USS Constellation (CV-64), and on a film set.
The film bears some resemblance to the experiences of former U.S. Air Force Captain Scott O'Grady, who was shot down over Bosnia on June 2, 1995. He managed to survive for six days before being rescued by U.S. Marines. He filed suit against the film's producers for defamation of character, as well as making a film about his ordeal without his permission. The film's characters and events differ from O'Grady's experience; he never entered populated areas, nor did he interact with civilians, and did not engage in direct combat with enemy soldiers. Also, O'Grady never flew an F/A-18F (Since he was an U.S. Air Force pilot and the F-18 is flown exclusively by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines, who, combined, flew the F-18A,C,and D variant in the area of operations throughout the 1990s) but rather an F-16 Fighting Falcon. The case was settled privately out of court.
The film made $18.7 million in its opening week in the U.S., landing at the #2 spot and held off the top spot by Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Behind Enemy Lines eventually grossed $92 million worldwide, of which $59 million was from North America. The budget was estimated[by whom?] to be $40 million.
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Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 37% based on reviews from 130 critics, with a weighted average of 4.8/10 and the site's consensus stating "The plot for Behind Enemy Lines is more jingoistic than credible, and the overload of flashy visual tricks makes the action sequences resemble a video game." Metacritic has assigned the film an average score of 49 out of 100 based on 29 reviews from mainstream critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."
Roger Ebert gives the film 1.5 stars (out of 4) and wonders if it is a comedy: "Its hero is so reckless and its villains so incompetent that it's a showdown between a man begging to be shot, and an enemy that can't hit the side of a Bosnian barn."
- "Behind Enemy Lines". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved April 10, 2010.
- Susman, Gary (August 20, 2002). "Plane Truth: Downed airman sues over "Behind Enemy Lines"". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- Sutherland, Scott (November 27, 2001). ""Behind Enemy Lines" Showcases NAS North Island". FindArticles.com. US Navy Press Releases. Retrieved August 22, 2009.[dead link]
- "Behind Enemy Lines Suit Settled | E! Online UK". Eonline.com. 2004-01-21. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
- "Behind Enemy Lines (2001)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
- "The Bling Ring". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 8, 2013.
- Ebert, Roger (2001-11-30). "Behind Enemy Lines Movie Review (2001)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 2013-11-20.
- Behind Enemy Lines at the Internet Movie Database
- Behind Enemy Lines at allmovie
- Behind Enemy Lines at Box Office Mojo
- Behind Enemy Lines at Metacritic
- Behind Enemy Lines at Rotten Tomatoes