Owen Wilson is the hometown boy who made good around these parts. Well, him along with brothers Luke and Andrew. They seem like good people. For sure they're funny. Owen's the writing partner of Wes Anderson and together they've crafted three of the finest comedies of recent memory. They made a splash with the indie sleeper Bottle Rocket that led Owen to Hollywood where he promptly said "YES!" to most any part he was offered. CineSchlocker fare such as Anaconda, The Haunting and now Behind Enemy Lines (2001, 105 minutes) where he attempts to make the unlikely leap from wiseacre sidekick to full-fledged action hero.
The movie: Remember that pilot who got blown out of the sky over Bosnia and had to fend for himself for six days before his rescue? Well, this is pretty much the same story but scripted by 10,000 monkeys with typewriters and filmed by a slew of spastic chipmunks. The camera slip slides and stutters with those super-cool Matrix whip-pans that could make a guy gnawing on a ham sandwich look "edgy." Forty million bucks worth of that stuff. Owen is Navy air navigator Burnett who find himself on the run, literally, when his government issue ride gets ventilated by decidedly unfriendly fire. And man is he ever hoofing it! Through the woods. Over hill, over dale. Occasionally stopping long enough to whine in code via walkie talky to Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman) who can't rush in and rescue him because the movie'd be over too soon. So there's a mean-nasty sniper (Vladimir Mashkov) to give Burnett a reason to duck 'n' cover now and then. But in the end, it's really all about Hackman getting to bark something like "LET'S GO GET OUR BOY!" and looking like a real badass when he does. Marvel during the finale as Owen successfully navigates walls of AK-47 and .50 caliber heavy machine gun fire not ONCE, but TWICE. Ah-nold would be proud.
Notables: No breasts. 165 corpses. Gratuitous John Denver joke. Slow mo stunt footage. Model airplane crash. Whizzing bullets. One execution. Sniper attack. Multiple explosions. Mass grave. Hip hop talk.
Quotables: Owen gets heavy, "I signed up to be a fighter pilot. I didn't want to be a cop. And I certainly didn't want to be a cop walking a beat in a neighborhood nobody cares about." But soon it's back to Yuksville when his football falls overboard and he hollers "WILLLLL-SONNNNN!!!!!" ala Cast Away.
Time codes: Behold the king daddy of stupid pilot tricks (4:30). Baddies try to cram a surface to air missile up Owen's afterburner (17:05). Gratuitous super-secret satellite recon footage (43:28). "Tiptooeeeee through the mine field with meeeee" (56:08). Gene does his heroic strut while the score soars (1:29:45). Music video-style finale (1:37:55).
Audio/Video: Nearly pristine W-I-D-E-S-C-R-E-E-N transfer (2.35:1). Wanna feel like you just stepped on a land mine? Crank either the DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks and prepare to loosen a filling.
Extras: The next ego-stroking Hollywood yahoo who says "Hey! Let's include a producers commentary!" should get punched in the face real hard. There, it's been said. Moving on. Listen to the post-nasal drippings of director John Moore and editor Martin Smith on their chummy, informative commentary (despite their colds). A few more bodies fall in the R-rated extended and deleted scenes (16 mins). There's also a nifty "pre-vis" reel that amounts to a motion-video storyboarding of the missile attack and ejection. Grandiose animated menus with audio. Darn the clumsy scene selections, though. Typical behind-the-scenes featurette (6 mins). Trailer for Stevie Spielberg's time-cop flick Minority Report.
Final thought: MTV goes to war! Unplug and enjoy. Recommended.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.