Behind Enemy Lines (KS, February 2002)

No poetry in this title. Some guy gets shot down behind enemy lines.

The enemy this time is Serbia, and the heroes are two American navy pilots, Burnett (Wilson) and Stackhouse (Macht).

Bored with their reconnaissance missions over a shakily peaceful Bosnia, c. 1995, they long to do something exciting (don’t we all?). So they go off mission, and get photos of illegal troop movements and mass graves. Why, it’s the wicked Serbs, breaking a fresh treaty!

Before long the intrepid pilots are being fired upon by the Serbs (admittedly their attempts to evade the missiles make for some good scenes) and are forced to eject from their plane. Stackhouse is caught, but Burnett must run photogenically from field to field for the rest of the film, hoping not to get shot by the Serbs. Considering that Burnett is blond-haired and wearing an American uniform, the great puzzle is how the Serbs miss him.

Gene Hackman, shame on him, plays Admiral Riegert. His role in the film however is Big Old Name and his purpose little more than to draw the older viewers (think Henry Fonda doddering through The Battle of Midway, c. 1976). Riegert spends most of the movie in his battleship arguing with his NATO superior, a supercilious Frenchman (of course), who won’t let him break the rules and fly in to rescue Burnett. Everybody in the movie wants to break the rules, but the only ones who are bad to do it are the fictitious Serbs. What is the moral here? Beats me.

The only real star of the movie is the impressive military hardware on display, but it’s not enough to get any stars from me.

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