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Review: Behind Enemy Lines 278

Next to Warner Brothers, which bought the rights to the first Harry Potter book for peanuts, 20th Century Fox is the luckiest studio around. Behind Enemy Lines -- a tight, highly entertaining and patriotic war thriller about soldiers heading into harm's way -- couldn't possibly be more timely. The aerial and ground combat special affects are so realistic they nearly constitute a breakthrough. The two major actors -- Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson -- are terrific, balancing and complimenting one another. The action is fast-paced and non-stop. Wilson really comes into his own in this is a disciplined, old-style Hollywood war yarn. And only a crisp 90 minutes long! SPOILAGE WARNING: plot is discussed, not ending.

The plot centers on an aircraft carrier patrolling near the end of the savage conflict in Bosnia. The ship is run by Americans but under the command of NATO, a setup for the murky global politics that underscore the plot. Lt. Chris Burnett (Wilson) is sick of the routines of non-combat flying and is considered a spoiled hotdog by his weary Admiral Riegart (Hackman). A wise-cracking smartass, he's sent on an aerial reconnaissance mission on Christmas Day. Ever looking to push the envelope (shades of Tom Cruise in Top Gun ), he veers off course and takes pictures of things he's not supposed to see -- civilians being slaughtered. His plane is shot down in a whiz-bang, special-affects laden sequence, his co-pilot and best buddy murdered as he looks on helplessly.

From the first shot, Director John Moore knows exactly what he's doing. The movie has an authentic, gung-ho quality too it, and it's eerily prescient -- the spy satellite and thermal imaging stuff is right out of today's evening newscasts. The Bosnian war and background scenes are authentic and disturbing. The movie moves like a rocket, pushed along by jump cuts, aerial shots and changes in film speed and angles. It doesn't get cluttered up with the usual distractions (remember Pearl Harbor's belabored love interests and other digressions?). And it actually ends right where it should, a minor cinematic miracle these days! Wilson convincingly evolves from an irresponsible snot-nose into a resourceful warrior, pursued by cool, murderous Bosnian soldiers who want to get the film of a massacre he shot from his onboard digital camera. Riegert is snarled in bureaucracy, his efforts to save the pilot complicated by a weak-kneed U.S. government and NATO wussies worried about global politics and diplomatic concerns.

As the onboard Marines restlessly lobby to fire up their Apaches and go in and get him, Wilson dodges and battles the Bosnian army all over the European forests (the movie was shot in Eastern Europe). The ending is pure John Wayne. This is a first-rate war thriller under any circumstances, but given the particular ones raging in Afghanistan, it's going to be a blockbuster.

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Review: Behind Enemy Lines

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  • Is this a demotion for the katzster?
  • Top Dog? (Score:3, Funny)

    by EasyRhino ( 109776 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @12:06PM (#2643674) Homepage
    I think the Tom Cruise movie you are thinking of is "Top Gun", not "Top Dog." No big deal, but might throw some people off.
    • Wasn't there an old Hanna Barbara cartoon called Top Dog? Or was it Top Cat? What was the name of that superhero dog that looked like Huckleberry Hound?
    • Oh man the Top Dog [] thing had me busting a gut. Top Gun [] is a cheesy, extraordinarily lame movie, but I still love it: There's something about the clean blue skies, etc. There's a certain irony in the fact that many laserdisc/DVD demo setups still show Top Gun as the big demo of the visual acuity and sounds, despite the fact that it's some 15 years old.

      The F-14 is still a beautiful fighter, albeit seriously outdated. Actually the F-111 Aardvark was one amazing bomber/fighter.

    • I think the Tom Cruise movie you are thinking of is "Top Gun", not "Top Dog." No big deal, but might throw some people off.

      No big deal? The one reference he makes to another movie is wrong. Not just any movie, either -- one of Cruise's most famous roles. At least he didn't say the ending was fresh out of Mission: Improbable.

    • How can you mix up the GREATEST guy movie of our generation with some lame ass washed-up chuck norris kids movie????? I never really thought Katz was a fool until now.....
  • Realistic (Score:4, Insightful)

    by alen ( 225700 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @12:08PM (#2643679)
    I only saw the trailers but it doesn't seem very realistic. Americans never leave their dead or missing on the battlefield. Not after Vietnam. When I was in the army we were taught that we should risk our own lives to bring back the bodies of our dead. To the US Army Rangers it's a part of life. Somalia is an example. Same thing with missing. You search for them until you are sure they are dead and then you bring back the remains.

    But it's a good story for Hollywood about a rogue officer trying to do what is right and going against the beauracracy. Americans hate beauracracy and it reflects in our art.
    • Re:Realistic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kerrbear ( 163235 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @01:41PM (#2643893)

      Realistic? Hardly.

      Fighter pilots that go off mission on a whim? Can you say serious lack of discipline? They get shot down in enemy territory, and our hero leaves his injured buddy out in the open in broad daylight? Then he moves around during the day? This is some of the most idiotic military procedures ever shown. If our military was really like this, Osama Bin Ladin would now be our president.

      Of course, our hero is completely impervious to explosions and has the superhuman ability to dodge bullets. And for some reason the director thought that realistic battle action involves shaking the camera around so much that you can't really see what's happening. Saving Private Ryan this was not.

      • Fighter pilots that go off mission on a whim? Can you say serious lack of discipline?

        Yes, I can. :)

        During the Persian Gulf War, one senior US military officer stole an attack helicopter (I believe it was an Apache) because he was frustrated with the way the war was being conducted, and flew off to attack the Iraqis by himself.

        The British did the right thing, of course, and shot him down. IIRC, he was a Major in the Army.

        Now, you can certainly complain that this movie is unrealistic. I would probably agree with you there. But to base your claim on how it portrays the American military as lacking discipline is, well, unwise. ;)

      • Re:Realistic (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stripes ( 3681 )
        Then he moves around during the day?
        Saving Private Ryan this was not.

        Note: Saving Private Ryan had similar problems, at the end for example the German tanks were moving in daylight, that late in the war the US had air superiority and German tanks avoided the day because they would be blown up by air support.

        It is just a real pain to film that kind of thing at night (or to look like night), so in war movies lots of stuff that would really happen at night is filmed to be in day. (It was nice that a some of the SPR marches were filmed at night...)

    • I too was kind of shocked by some of the movies unrealistic scenes. Ok, flying off course a major mistake in and off itself is the premise for the movie and it is believable. I knew that was not realistic but it was belivable so the movie was still good.

      Owen wilson did a good job in this role actually.

      The scene with the SAM launched missiles and them evading and then ejecting were really awesome. I mean I have seen a ton of those scenes before but that missile chase scene was very engrossing and some of the footage for those scenes was plain awesome.

      Once they hit the ground the movie starts getting a little silly. They know they are in hostile territory and he leaves his man laying injured in the middle of a wide open field.... NOT! At least if he would have dragged him to some woods and hid him and THEN the enemy army found him it would have seemed better, but that was a dumb movie mistake. The scene where they shot the pilot made me jump even though I knew it was coming.. it was well done.. just not realisitc.

      Next You have owen wilson dodging an impossible number of bulletsand explosive tank rounds....... It was a good chase scene one of them would have been okay.

      Then you have owen wilson sitting on some sort of broken stone structure. The main pursuer with the nice sniper rifle misses his target that has been sitting still for at least 5 minutes. In the real world if he was sitting in the open for so long that sniper would not have missed, end of the movie.

      The pursuit continues and wilson manages to survive in what seemed to be the epicenter of a bunch of mines of some sort (I don;t know the military terminology for waht they were). ANyways it was not realistic after they showed what it did to the enemy soliders.

      everything else in the movie is pretty good until the last scene. That last scene had me wishing it didnt happen.

      They fly in with a few marine helicopters. There are a ton of enemy tanks and soliders all approaching owen wilson. Then these helicopters pop up, stay in the same place and somehow decimate the enemy for like four minutes. The footage was nice, but I just DONT see how the enemy solders can be such a bad shot that they could not hit these practicaly stationary helicopters for a full four minutes. Oh and whats with the enemy commander sitting there in plain view prancing about yelling in anger and never getting hit while everyone around him dies?

      Oh and they happened to see the supa camo'd enemy sniper and shoot him a few moments before he fired?????

      That last scene was bad :(

      Overall the movie was great and the footage and way it was filmed were very nice. The camera angles were good (except those damn shaking camera scenes, won't those Private Ryan Esque scenes ever stop??? )

      I am a little critical of a few scenes since I know a good deal about military procedure because I have a couple friends in special forces in the army.

      Overall.. the movie was fun and they didnt truly spoil it until the end so I thought it was an alright movie.

      • Where are your + mods?

        I would have to say tho that he was playing a Navy Pilot that did not take his Marine buddy's advice on being prepared for such a situation. A good soldier would have not made a peep when his friend got shot.

        As for the helicopters, they did show them getting shot up, and they did show a marine get nailed, but ya woulda thought they woulda gotten a bit more damaged. That would have IMHO ruined the picture of a copter got shot down.

        As for the sniper, he was forest camo'd in an ice field. If I was editing it, I just would have cut that scene.

        Also, the director seemed to want to make a point about the thin ice as he initially ran out to his seat ... but it couldn't have been too thin for that seat not to just go right through the ice and to have tanks on it! I was expecting him to go under after the director showed the ice. Red Harring or bad editing, who knows?

        I also think the clothes changing scene was crap
      • The scene with the SAM launched missiles and them evading and then ejecting were really awesome. I mean I have seen a ton of those scenes before but that missile chase scene was very engrossing and some of the footage for those scenes was plain awesome.
        Unfortunately, the SAM chase scene is the worst, most unrealistic part of the whole movie.

        They shot at them with an SA-8. This is a solid rocket fueled, radar guided missile.

        SAMs are not as maneuverable as the aircraft they pursue, but just about every SAM (& air-to-air missile for that matter) flies Mach 3+. Also, if the missile doesn't get close enough to the aircraft to explode before the fuel is spent, it just goes ballistic & hits the ground. Missiles have a proximity fuse that detonates within a certain range of the aircraft. The warheads are actually very small, but the hope is that the shrapnel will impact the aircraft & hit vital components like hydraulic lines, electrical cables, or fuel tanks.

        Here are the standard tactics for evading a SAM:

        Immediately drop chaff & flares (because you usually won't know if it's radar or IR guided) and continue to drop them every so often until the missile's gone.

        Next, & most importantly, visually acquire the missile and don't take your eyes off it.

        Then, turn into it so you're flying head on. This reduces your radar cross section & puts your largest heat source (i.e. engines) behind you & away from an IR guided SAMs seeker head.

        Finally, if the missile isn't diverted by the chaff or flares, break violently a few seconds before expected impact.

      • I only hope that when they showed the prerelease of this movie to our troops on the ships in the far east, the commanders gave them a talk beforehand;
        "Troops, listen up. Watch this movie carefully, spot the mistakes. There will be a written exam after the movie. Afterwards, you'll be going ashore - and there will be a REAL exam. If you act like this in country, you'll be coming home in a body bag."
    • One of the most chilling things that my father-in-law said about flying F-4s over Vietnam is that they figured out pretty quickly that being shot down and killed is not the worst thing that could happen to you.


      ObDisclaimer -- my company did effects for a dozen shots in Behind Enemy Lines; stuff that you'll never know was effects, though.
    • Re:Realistic (Score:2, Informative)

      As ex-military myself, I tend to agree with you about not leaving your dead behind. Even in Vietnam, the U.S. only left its dead behind when the body couldn't be found or extraction was impossible (since the nights belonged to Charlie, ARVN were almost useless, both civilians and VC wore black pajamas, and Westmoreland and the politicians in D.C. were determined not to win). The U.S. routinely left the dead behind in WWII and Korea. The numbers of U.S. MIA in Korea and WWII are staggering compared to Vietnam. As far as the movie is concerned, it's pure Hollywood. U.S. pilots *DO NOT* change their mission on a whim. It's career suicide if a pilot loses his ship because of negligence or "winging it". Officers in the military pretty much toe the line when it comes to D.C. politics. The only time I ever heard an officer sound even remotely rebellious was when they were drunk and out of earshot of other officers. So, a guy in the military frustrated by bureaucracy or politics?! Sounds more like an NCO, ground pounder or grunt, not a pilot.
  • by Warshadow ( 132109 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @12:08PM (#2643680)
    Did he just NOT insult a movie for once? IMPOSTER! Actually whatever you've done with the real Jon Katz please leave him there!
  • by Zobeid ( 314469 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @12:16PM (#2643713)
    I generally liked it, but I had a few quibbles.

    1. Too much use of camera shake. This made it hard to watch in some points, while not really helping tell the story in any way. It also gave me a creepy feeling at one point.... The obviously hand-held camera is following our hero, and I'm wondering: Who is following our guy around with a camera? The shake makes it seem like there should be a person there.

    2. Too heavy-handed use of music soundtrack. I don't like being lead by the nose with music telling me what I should feel at every moment in the movie. Silence can be golden. Just watch 2001: A Space Odyssey again, you'll see.

    3. The whole theme of hero's doubts about "why are we here" seems quaintly anachronistic after the events of Sept 11. So do the parts where UN officials are bossing around the US Navy. Can anyone imagine that happening today? The world has changed in a short time, and this film is already taking on the feeling of a historical piece.
    • But it's a crisp ninety minutes long! That's so much better than those gawdawful long movies that approach two hours in length. Katz and I see eye-to-eye on this one: the shorter the movie, the better it is! A *real* director should be able to tell his story in fifteen minutes or less.
  • by OblongPlatypus ( 233746 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @12:18PM (#2643721)
    You say this like it's a good thing, a tendency I've noticed in many reviews lately. For some reason a movie is regarded as too long if it even comes close to the two hour mark. DVD fans will know another side of the issue; director commentaries always talk about the parts they had to slash, and the number of unused scenes only seem to grow.

    I understand perfectly well that in many cases a movie can be made too long, making it boring or just too long-winded. But why is a short movie seen as a good thing in itself? If a movie is really good, I'd love to stay in the theatre for three hours, or more. If it isn't good, I'll just leave. I can't tell you how many movies I've seen lately where I wished it would just last longer, and show us more of the story.
    • Agreed. Hell, X-Men felt like it should have had at least an extra 10 minutes put INTO it just to give the damn plot some breathing room.
      Some kinds of flims work well at the 90 minute mark, but any kind of war film should be around 2 hours or longer just to get a decent flow going to the action.
      I still think "The Thin Red Line" is a better film than "Saving Private Ryan" because it wasn't so caught up in trying to be and event. And that so-called "realistic" Normandy landing was annoying as all fuck to watch.
    • You know why, don't you? It's so the greed-mongers in the MPAA can jam more screenings in and increase their profit margin, after they've jacked the ticket price to ridiculous levels. In other words, you're paying more for less. They also want you to pay again for the second half of the movie...thinly disguised as (put movie title here) II.
    • It depends on the movie. I often walk out of a movie thinking 'why didn't they just cut the last 45 minutes?'. This normally happens when the scriptwriter feels the need to resolve some cheesy plot-line explicitely, rather than just leaving it to the imagination.

      On the other hand, the Harry Potter movie was, IMHO, way too short even at 210 (?) minutes. They tried to cram the whole book in and the film ended up being a montage of short scenes resembling a music video with no time for character development. They should either have cut out more of the book, or split it into two movies. The director has already suggested that he may do that with the fourth book, since it's much longer.

    • Peter Jackson and New Line did a great thing bringing LOTR in at 3 full spanking hours. Every review says it flies by. A great movie, like that or Apocalypse Now, makes you want it to go on and on

    • by BurntHombre ( 68174 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @01:57PM (#2643933)
      "No good movie is too long, and no bad movie is short enough."

      That pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject.

    • "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter book."

      Short is definetly good, for any type of artistic piece. The idea is almost always to get across the most meaning in the least amount of time. Readers (or viewer) are inherently lazy and don't have the longest attention spans. That doesn't mean all movies and books should be made shorter, as sometimes that could be the intent of the author as the length of the book could be a metaphor for something happening in the story or parallels something about the characters, but I'd prefer not to see overly long movies and read overly long books (stupid Dickens being paid by the word ;))

  • Haven't seen the movie, but I can't say that I plan to, either, especially after reading this StarTribune [] review...
    Wilson and Hackman certainly should be able to relate to Burnett's plight: They're stuck in a movie from which they need to be rescued. But no help is coming, so they push on like good soldiers.
  • by cyberkahn ( 398201 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @12:27PM (#2643738) Homepage
    I liked the movie overall until the end, which seemed too much like an Indiana Jones finish. I served with the US Army under the NATO led IFOR (Implimentation Force) back in 95. From what I saw I was really impressed with the markings on the vehicles, uniforms etc. It looked so much like the former Yugoslavia to me that I stayed to watch the credits. I wanted to see where it was actually filmed. One scene they are in a factory, (I was shaking my head in disbelief) which appeared to be just like a tank factory we were stationed at in Slavonski Brod,Croatia. I am sure there is someone out there who will nit pick the innaccuracies, but at first glance the attention to detail as far as the country and military forces was excellent in my opinion.
    • Actually, the only thing that got me ticked off was the scene where he runs through the alley with all the mines going off behind him. As a former assault engineer I can't believe that even the dumbest Serb conscript would put the detonators and trip wires outside the blast radius. Not once, but about 20 times in a row.
      • Ah, You don't understand the physics of action movies. See rule #2.

        1. Enemies always leave their weapons on fully automatic.

        Even if they have a clear shot from higher ground with a total element of surprise, they will hold their weapon sideways and let loose 30 rounds on full auto. Of course they all miss.

        2. Good guys can always run faster than explosions.

        If there is an explosion of some sort, a good guy can always outrun it.

        3. Endless magazines.

        Good and bad guys all have infinite ammo. They are regularly seen taking 10-15 shots from a 6 shot revolver, and hundreds of shots out of a submachine gun before reloading.

        4. Ledge hanging

        At some point, the good guy will always hang off a ledge of some sort. He will of course never lose grip, even if two other people are hanging off of him. The exception to this rule is when the good guy loses grip, and falls into something that breaks the fall.

        5. Bad guys aiming.

        Bad guys are terrible shots. When they do actually hit a good guy, it is only in the shoulder. This shoulder wound does not impede the application of rule number 4, however.

        6. Tactical mistakes

        Bad guys attack one at a time, even if they have the option of ganging up on the good guy. This allows the good guy to use his martial arts training to take out each bad guy. The exception to this rule is when the good guy can use a bad guy's body as a weapon to take out other bad guys.

        This barely scratches the surface, as there are rules that apply to car chases, saving the female, hostage situations, etc. Even in war movies that try to be true to life, most of the time these hollywood-isms creep in.

        I'd have to say that Saving Private Ryan was the only one where they managed to avoid almost all of this nonsense.
  • Please, Jon, stop being so funny! I just had surgery; jokes like you are dangerous to my health! Tom Cruise in Top Dog [], right?

    Taco, Hemos: are you guys actually paying Katz for this? This is exactly why I wouldn't pay for slashdot.

  • A Good Review?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rackemup ( 160230 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @12:27PM (#2643741) Homepage
    I've seen a few reviews for "Behind Enemy Lines" and the good reviews seem to be dead even with the bad ones.

    From what I've seen of the previews it seems to be a "go team America, bring our boys home" kinda movie, but the methods they use to get there are pretty lame. The special-effects shots look great, but if it's all show and no meat then I'm not interested.

    I read another reviewer talk about the main character's adventures by saying "standing on a ridge, making a target of himself, running in the open, etc, etc"? Stuff like that may look good on the big screen but in real life it'll get you an ass-full of lead.

    • Re:A Good Review?? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bartacus ( 40172 )
      Maybe you're referring to the Roger Ebert [] review?

      The premiere of "Behind Enemy Lines" was held aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. I wonder if it played as 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 Bos-nian barn.

      This is not the story of a fugitive trying to sneak through enemy terrain and be rescued, but of a movie character magically transported from one photo opportunity to another.

      Owen Wilson stars as Burnett, a hot-shot Navy flier who "signed up to be a fighter pilot--not a cop on a beat no one cares about." On a recon mission over Bosnia, he and his partner Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht) venture off mission and get digital photos of a mass grave and illegal troop movements. It's a Serbian operation in violation of a fresh peace treaty, and the Serbs fire two missiles to bring the plane down.

      The plane's attempts to elude the missiles supply the movie's high point. The pilots eject. Stackhouse is found by Tracker (Vladimir Mashkov), who tells his commander Lokar (Olek Krupa) to forget about a big pursuit and simply allow him to track Burnett. That sets up the cat-and-mouse game in which Burnett wanders through open fields, stands on the tops of ridges and stupidly makes himself a target, while Tracker is caught in one of those nightmares where he runs and runs but just can't seem to catch up.

      Back on the USS Vinson, Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman) is biting his lower lip. He wants to fly in and rescue Burnett, but is blocked by his NATO superior, Admiral Piquet (Joaquim de Almeida)--a Frenchman who is so devious he substitutes French NATO troops for Americans in a phony rescue mission, and calls them off just when Burnett is desperately waving from a pickup area. Bet you a shiny new dime that when this movie plays in France, Admiral Piquet becomes an Italian.

      The first-time director is John Moore, who has made lots of TV commercials, something we intuit in a scene where Reigart orders Burnett to proceed to another pick-up area, and Burnett visualizes fast-motion whooshing tracking shots up and down mountains and through valleys before deciding, uh-uh, he ain't gonna do that.

      What Burnett does do is stroll through Bosnia like a bird watcher, exposing himself in open areas and making himself a silhouette against the skyline. He's only spotted in the first place because when his buddy is cornered, he's hiding safely but utters a loud involuntary yell and then starts to run up an exposed hillside. First rule of not getting caught: No loud involuntary yells within the hearing of the enemy.

      This guy is a piece of work. Consider the scene where Burnett substitutes uniforms with a Serbian fighter. He even wears a black ski mask covering his entire face. He walks past a truck of enemy troops, and then what does he do? Why, he removes the ski mask, revealing his distinctive blond hair, and then he turns back toward the truck so we can see his face, in case we didn't know who he was. How did this guy get through combat training? Must have been a social promotion to keep him with his age group.

      At times Burnett is pursued by the entire Serbian army, which fires at him with machine guns, rifles and tanks, of course never hitting him. The movie recycles the old howler where hundreds of rounds of ammo miss the hero, but all he has to do is aim and fire, and--pow! another bad guy jerks back, dead. I smiled during the scene where Admiral Reigart is able to use heat-sensitive satellite imagery to look at high-res silhouettes of Burnett stretched out within feet of the enemy. Maybe this is possible. What I do not believe is that the enemies in this scene could not spot the American uniform in a pile of enemy corpses.

      Do I need to tell you that the ending involves a montage of rueful grins, broad smiles, and meaningful little victorious nods, scored with upbeat rock music? No, probably not.

      And of course we get shots of the characters and are told what happened to them after the story was over--as if this is based on real events. It may have been inspired by the adventures of Air Force pilot Scott O'Grady, who was rescued after being shot down over Bosnia in 1995, but based on real life, it's not.

      Copyright © Chicago Sun-Times Inc.
  • No Man's Land (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Troodon ( 213660 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @12:33PM (#2643753) Homepage
    If you're after a thoughtful, satirical war movie with strong characters go see No Man's Land. Its touted as one of the strongest releases of the year.

    A few random blurbs:,3 69 9,2406267,00.html

    • by Anonymous Coward
      For more fun, check out the porno series with the same title.
    • I haven't seen it yet, as it's not out in my neck of the woods, but I was able to catch a rather lengthy interview with the filmmaker on National Public Radio. Apparently he's a former cameraman for the Bosnian Army, and much of the movie is based upon his real life experiences in the war. They discussed the film at great length, and it sounds like a real winner. A meaningful war movie of the Saving Private Ryan camp, not the Hollywoodesque Full Metal Jacket camp.

      And yes, I did mean to use my +1 bonus, which I almost never do, since I'd really like people to take notice of this film and check it out. Like I said, I have not yet seen it, but if the fimlmaker (his name escapes my memory) can relate a story as well on film as he can in an interview, it promises to be absolutly gripping.
  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @12:44PM (#2643779) Journal

    Incredible! Now i can watch a fictional war at the movies to take my mind off the real war on my television.

    On another note, here's a quick review of why America is in a real war in the first place. e_guide.php []

    "Before September 11th the deal was this: The American people agreed to work their asses off and not ask questions about what the government was up to as long as the government promised to continue to provide the American way of life. As Ollie North put it, 'the American people don't want to know.' Then on September 11th, everything changed..."

    No wait, maybe nothing has changed. Thanks for the memories hollywood!
    • US foreign policy is full of examples such as those mentioned in the page you link to. Mistakes were definitely made.

      But the piece betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of how foreign policy is shaped. First, the world we live in is not black and white. More often than not, we're dealing with international problems that have no clean, clear answer.

      For example, it's easy to dismiss American Cold War fears of Castro's Cuba. But then, he did ask for and receive assistance from the Soviets in the form of missiles [], didn't he?

      The Vietnam War was by almost anyone's estimation, a wasteful, stupid blunder of immense proportions. But let us not forget that a large part of the reason the US got involved in the first place was that the Soviets were making advances of one sort or another on almost every continent. They had what the US perceived to be a client state in North Vietnam.

      The Soviet Union espoused a form of government that viewed the destruction of capitalism and the bourgeous democracies as a primary goal.

      US foreign policy was dictated by the overarching threat of communism. Sure, now it seems a joke - it collapsed from the inside, from its own weight. But just as sabre-rattling from the West scared the Soviets, the US was scared by Soviet threats as well.

      Yes, there are other factors at work. Yes, the Soviet Union is now dead. Yes, mistakes are still being made in US foreign policy.

      But the September 11th attacks didn't happen because Bin Laden was pissed off about the Vietnam War, or about the Bay of Pigs, or our meddling with Iran. Bin Laden was pissed off because we supported Saudi Arabia, a country whose rulers he sees as morally corrupt.

      Our reasons for supporting the House of Saud over the years primarily stemmed from our desire to maintain stability in the Middle East. During the Cold War, the Soviets were trying as hard as possible to exert influence there, in hopes that by choking off the supply of oil to the West, Europe and the United States would become vulnerable.

      We utilized balance of power politics, the same thing that Metternich [] used in Europe to avoid a major war for years. It's not policy driven by right and wrong. It's policy driven by expediency. It's not perfect. Hell, it's barely adequate much of the time.

      But I'd much rather trust foreign policy to people who are thinking of overall balances and stability and peace, than people who would rather persue blindly optimistic policy based on idealism.

      The track record of idealistic US foreign policy is pretty dismal. Woodrow Wilson got us involved in WWI too late, because he was loathe to go to war. Then his idealism failed at the Treaty of Versailles, because he went along with France's desire to humiliate and punish [] Germany.

      Jimmy Carter was so infatuated with the idea of working with the Soviets for detente, that when they surprised him by invading Afghanistan, he launched a massive arms buildup (yes, Reagan didn't start it - Carter did []) and sent the CIA in to support the mujahedin.

      So while it's easy to throw rocks, and it's easy to look at history in retrospect, dealing with the day-to-day matters of international relations is a mite trickier.

      The UN won't save you from terrorists. Germany won't work to protect American jobs by keeping the price of oil stable. Japan isn't going to keep India and Pakistan from nuking each other. It's a big, complicated, dangerous world out there.

      Finally, the argument that Americans are being misled by the government about US foreign policy is a load of crap. American foreign policy aims are well known to anyone who takes the time to read about them.

      Foreign policy is a complex topic, and you can't get a grip on it by watching E! Entertainment News. Less than half the eligible population of the US votes. News shows that stick to news get lower ratings than those that pander to the lowest common denominator.

      Americans largely don't want to think about international affairs. That is a far more serious problem for the US in the long run than any specific policy blunders.

  • Overall, I thought this was a good movie. I only see a couple of issues: Did anyone notice that the Surface-to-air missiles made more than 1 pass at the F/A-18? I'm pretty sure (correct me if I''m wrong) that most of the serbian's arsenal would not be that sophisticated. I thought most Air to Air & Surface to Air missiles were forward looking, meaning if the target got behind them, it'd lose it's targetting. Second issue, 3 helicopters held off a good 6 tanks, and 30-40 soldiers at bay in the final rescue scene. A little optimistic I would say. But hey, this is hollywood...
    • Actually with the current, and even a few years older, arsenal of the apache helicopter, this is quite possible, with their hellfire missiles(tank killers) and large front mounted swiveling cannons. There are also additional arms, but I won't get into them. Oh yeah, I haven't seen the movie though, so this is only fact, without all the facts of the movie.
      • True, but they didn't have Apache's - I didn't recognize the model - They looked like rescue choppers with some rocket launchers bolted on and a machine or two as well..
      • and fortunatly you give me an excuse to jump on Katz.

        Im not up on my military aircraft, but these things were transport helecopters, not two seater attack helecopters (or webservers).

        And for the record, I diddnt realy like the movie. I diddnt get at all attached to the characters, and wasent paticularly impressed by the special efects (they were good, but by no means groundbreaking). I have no idea what the deal with they guy in the track suit is all about. I know nothing about either of the two main characters beyond the obvious, and the interesting characters (track suit guy, and the kid) only left me wondering if the writers had any character developement ability whatsoever.

        And I kept saying to myself that Hackman should be telling the pilot where to go with obscure golf references. Bat21.. Now theres a good rescue movie.

    • Yes, you're absolutly correct on the first count. Only in video games, will missiles do a full 180 and chase something down. The velocity of a missile is just too great to even design it to TRY to track something it's passed. The turning acr would be enormous. Even a shoulder mounted SAM like a Stinger flys at Mach 2.

      As for the rescue scene, I haven't seen the film yet, but it isn't nessisarily unrealistic. Remember two key points: 1) The modern helicopter gunship is one of the most formidable weapon systems on the modern battlefiel. They are capable of caryint TOW missiles which will kill tanks, the gattling guns have look-down / shoot-down capability, etc. 2) For a rescue, the rescuing forces would only have to hold off the opposing forces long enough to snatch their target and dust off. Killing the enemy isn't nessisarily required. Pinning him down, or just slowing his advance sufficiently is enough.
      • As for the rescue scene, I haven't seen the film yet, but it isn't nessisarily unrealistic.
        Unfortunately, it's incredibly unrealistic. Three UH-1s (1 gunship, 2 slicks) hover in plain sight of ~100 Serbian soldiers, including several armored vehicles. They initially fire a few unguided rockets at the armored vehicles and fire machine guns for 2-3 minutes, decimating the Serbs. None of the helicopters get even a scratch.

        Luckily, I didn't pay for the movie. ACES [], where I work, was involved with a movie promo and gave away free tickets to a sneak-preview that I went to.

        There were many more fake parts, see my previous post [] about the SAM chase scene.
  • I am glad I read the review. I was planning on skipping the movie, thinking it was a childish non-plot movie like Pearl Harbor. Thanks....I might see it today. BTW...the Marines don't use Apache's they use Cobra's. Just another war monger guy here.
  • Great, now we'll get 30 minutes of ads and trailers.
  • A group of flight simulator panel display designers from Project Magneta were tasked with making the authentic looking F16 displays for this movie. Thier website is here:

    There's some comparison shots between the real deal vs. what they came up with. I'd say they did a pretty good job.

    The art director of the movie wanted something authentic and not jazzed up as in alot of hollywood flicks.
  • I have seen this film Mr. Jon Katz has spoken about - it is wonderful. It has been so kick-ass to watch Divx on my COmmodore 64. We have converted the old chicken coop to an Internet Cafe/Media Center - and we have been doing brisk buisness! I have recieved at least 2 Datsun 4x4's and 3 Toyotas in payment for time on the net! Peace Love and Porn from Afghanistan Junis
  • It practically ruins the movie! In the first half of the movie Owen Wilson sports a shiny perlescent lip gloss that practically glows. That and the crusty base that is literally sloughing off both his and David Keith's faces throughout the picture is a terrible distraction from an otherwise good film.

  • Wilson dodges and battles the Bosnian army

    It was the Serbs who executed his partner and were tryig to kill him as well, and not the Bosnians (they actually gave him a ride). I've just seen the movie last night - I remember very well.

  • I guess I don't want to read a movie review by someone who can even wet his pants over a totally unrealistic and obviously forged email from an Afghanistan kid...

    But maybe that's just me...
  • I've seen the trailer, and it didn't make me want to see the film. That aside, it's interesting to note that this was supposed to be released in the movie dumping land known as January, but the release was moved up to make it more timely.
    There are arguably better films to waste your time on these days, but if you gotta see stuff blowing up, this is pretty much your only choice for quite a while.
  • So, we have our Great American Hero fighting the bad Bosnian Army? Which one is it really? As far as I know there were roughly three parties involved: Serbs, Croats and Muslims (Croats with another religion really). The Serbs were mostly depicted as the bad guys by western media, with the Muslims as the major victims. So how about this movie?
    Did they get something right or will they just depend on the Good American Audience to be as ignorant about the background as Katz seems to be?
    • As far as I know there were roughly three parties involved: Serbs, Croats and Muslims (Croats with another religion really).

      Same ethnicity, different religions all around.

      • Serbs: Serbian Orthodox

        • Croats: Roman Catholic

        • Muslims: well, Islam

        • They all speak similar languages, although Serb and Croat are increasingly distinct from each other. This Muslims speak a dialect of Serbo-Croatian but all of the tongues are mutually intelligible.

          Katz is dead wrong is saying the Bosnian army; it was the Serbs who were getting Smart Bombed, but they could have been Bosnian Serbs: Serbs who still live in BiH after the Dayton Accord. These Serbs would not have SAMs and tanks though -- more of a militia (small arms and bad attitudes).

          You can still get stopped at 'checkpoints' around Banja Luka by these cats -- very unnerving.

          Why is it so unbelievable that a large corporation would try to profit off of war? Funny how we USAians forget lessons....
  • by neoshmengi ( 466784 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @01:21PM (#2643854) Journal
    The action scenes were definately cool, but I think that plot is still the quintessential part of a movie. There were a number of plot weaknesses.

    Who was that random sniper guy who keeps appearearing? What a generic villain. How did he survive 5 or six shots from a pistol?
    How did the hero survive a whole battalion shooting at him?? *sigh*

    What was up with that random serbian guy he befriended? That kid played NO part at all, so why was he even in there?

    They should have worked the genocide angle a little more to make the audience even more angry at the heartless enemy. Not just a generic mass grave...

    It just goes to show that even the coolest special effects can't make up for a weak plot. Producers should at least try to make the plot a little more coherent.

    That's my 2 cents. Feel free to flame if you loved the movie.
  • Special Affects? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    $ dict affect
    4 definitions found

    From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) [web1913]:

    Affect \Af*fect"\ ([a^]f*f[e^]kt"), v. t. [imp. & p. p.
    {Affected}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Affecting}.] [L. affectus, p. p.
    of afficere to affect by active agency; ad + facere to make:
    cf. F. affectere, L. affectare, freq. of afficere. See
    1. To act upon; to produce an effect or change upon.

    2. To influence or move, as the feelings or passions; to


    Seriously, why is this IDIOT posting movie reviews? Like this is really news for nerds... Or stuff that matters!
  • by dpease ( 470976 )
    warning: i guess some of this could be considered a spoiler.

    I caught this flick last night, and while it was OK, I had a few problems with it.
    • 3l33t camera tricks made it hard to watch. The director appeared to think he was making a music video, and not a movie, at times. The quick pans, camera jiggles, and slo-mos were sort of hard to take seriously after a while, and didn't really need to be there IMO.
    • You'll need to seriously check your brain at the door to believe that Wilson can be shot at by literally hundreds of infantry and dozens of armored vehicles throughout the movie and make it out alive. Yeah, yeah, lots of movies are like this, but Behind Enemy Lines was really egregious. The finale was--well, it really made it appear that this battle was being fought in Fantasyland, not Europe.
    • Owen Wilson gets love from the press and from moviegoers, and I don't get it. He seems like a smart and funny enough guy, but he plays the same damn character in every movie he's ever in. He's always something of a smart-ass but otherwise a good person. Seriously, if you can differentiate his performance in this movie from, say, his work in The Haunting, you're paying more attention than me. Sure, this movie didn't suck nearly as bad as The Haunting did, but differentiating slightly sardonic hick-sounding unabashed white guys is tough for me.

    Hey, have a hell of a day.
    • I agree with your 2nd & 3rd points, but I liked some of that camera work. Particularly the ejection sequence.

      I thought it was cool how they showed each individual explosive bolt detonate and the canopy fly off, and the equipment in the plane working to make it happen.

      That they had to pull their own ripcords was really fake though.

      Overall, there was way too many make believe parts and Owen Wilson was miscast. See my other post [] about the SAM chase scene.
  • gung-ho? (Score:5, Informative)

    by pvera ( 250260 ) <> on Sunday December 02, 2001 @01:52PM (#2643920) Homepage Journal
    "The movie has an authentic, gung-ho quality too it"

    Katz, do you even know what the hell gung-ho really means? Gung-ho means "striving for harmony" which is what pretty much the core leadership model for the USMC Raider Battalions (which started as an experiment on chinese comunist guerrilla operations).

    Katz was probably referring to the bastardized version of "gung ho" made popular by the propaganda movies of the period.

    As for the movie itself, it rocked. Loud as hell and well worth it. The politics of the movie were disturbing, which added to the overall theme.

    One thing that did not make any sense was when Gene Hackman called the aircraft carrier a "boat." In the navy a surface vessel is a "ship," while a "boat" is a submarine (not that it matters, since to a submariner, anything on the surface is classified as a target, hostile or not). Notice that our submarines are built at a place called the Electric Boat Company (General Dynamics, while our surface vessels are built in shipyards (like for example Grumman's Newport News shipyard,

    Still, it rocked. It definitely rocked. I think Behind Enemy Lines took the title from Top Gun for the aerial sequences.
    • Re:gung-ho? (Score:2, Informative)

      by jasonzzz ( 415795 )

      Gung Ho means "Ultimate Excellence" or "Ever Better". Obviously Evan Carlson (of Carlson's Raiders = 2nd Raider Battalion) bastardized the word (don't worry, most Foreigners bastardize words and make it to man whatever they want: Capt Cook did it with the Hawaiians, so did the missionaries all over the world. Even the Japanese bastardize English all over the place, Note: Check out )and the concept when he had his tour with the Communist Chinese during the Japanese occupation of China.

      Note that Carlson "learned" the concept during his working relationship together with the Chinese Army, so it was an "experience", not an "experiment".

      "Striving for Harmony" is something that Carlson and the American made up. Don't confuse that with the true spirit of the word.
      • What he learned with the chinese communist route army was an experience.

        What the USMC did with the two provisional Raider batallions was an experiment.

        It was a lot more complicated than that. The British had commando raids that even if only did minor damage to the enemy they did wonders to increase the morale of the civilian population in England. The USMC did their own version of the commandos, the Raiders.

        The Raiders were doomed from the start because the Marines were already an elite corps, so making an elite within an elite did not make a hell of a lot of sense.
        • Re:gung-ho? (Score:2, Funny)

          by Jaeger ( 2722 )
          So that would mean that the Raiders were a meta-elite unit?

          (Sorry; I'm obsessed with the word "meta" these days.)

  • I have never seen a war movie so butchered. It lacks any substance, i felt empty coming out of the theater. SPOILER - The whole plot is predictable from beginning. Ten minutes after the movie begins you meet the evil franch admiral and the bad guys on the mainland. From there on you know that the good admiral is going to disobey the bad one at some point in the movie. The whole movie stinks of patriotic nonsense (I am american so don't get me wrong) and Hollywood bravado.
    Even the actors, which usualy are pretty good to excellent, seemed to be out of synch. The movie gives a kind of artificial feeling and you don't feel like you are at war at all. The movie tries, and fails in a pathetic fashion, to portray the sorrow and fear that is associated with war. Good war movies include Platoon, Kelly's heroes, Tigerland, etc which manage to create a bond between either you and the characters or you and the historic context. This movie does neither. It just plain sucks.
  • Has anyone seen it? (Score:5, Informative)

    by 90XDoubleSide ( 522791 ) <ninetyxdoublesid ... t ['ail' in gap]> on Sunday December 02, 2001 @01:57PM (#2643931)
    I would be interested in knowing if anyone who has seen the movie actually agrees that it is worth seeing. While I don't like to avoid seeing a flick just because of someone's bad review, when I go onto it's Rotten Tomatoes page [] and see:

    "If you're looking for anything beyond flashy entertainment, Behind Enemy Lines feels out of whack from the start."
    -- Stephanie Zacharek, SALON.COM

    "The exhausting obsession with gizmos and gotchas only accentuates a baffling disinterest in the story's emotional crux."
    -- Jessica Winter, VILLAGE VOICE

    "The Bosnian War becomes a video game, Gene Hackman turns into a pseudo-John Wayne, and Owen Wilson and Vladimir Mashkov impersonate The Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote."
    -- Michael Wilmington, CHICAGO TRIBUNE

    "Pro forma stuff, so much so that you start to wonder why no fetching femme resistance fighter materializes to help the Americans on the ground."
    -- Kenneth Turan, LOS ANGELES TIMES

    "An implausible military technology adventure that takes about 10 minutes to get started, then climaxes for an hour-and-a-half."
    -- Paul Tatara, CNN

    as the top five reviews I have to wonder. Couple that with the fact that Film Threat [] (with whom I agree about 90% of the time) gave it one star, and the sleaziness factor from knowing they moved the release date up to cash in on the September 11th bombing and I think I will be taking this review with more than a grain of salt :)

    • I've seen it. Just last night, actually. I'm in the military, too. You can read all these nit-picky posts about how this and that was inaccurate, or how the plot should have been more blah blah blah, or you can just decide to go out and hang out with some friends, enjoying a flick with some good action and effects and a patriotic message. I'm sure you'll see things that make you roll your eyes, but this movie wont make you any dumber for having seen it. I'm glad that plenty of people on here can be condescending about how the movie is just a bunch of flash for entertainment's sake, but isn't that why they went to see it? If they really want it to be that realistic, they can just go join the military(everyone's invited) and try and get themselves into harm's way long enough to experience some danger WORTHY of their approval. Dont like the movie? Download the source and compile your own!(A horrid analogy, I know, but I'm sure most of you get my point).
    • For one thing, the plot was absolutely full of internal inconsistencies. To take just one example: Owen Wilson is supposed to go to a rally point and report in. He proceeds as directed and calls in; at the end of the call, Gene Hackman tells his team to triangulate Wilson's location. This just moments after Wilson said "Hey, I'm at the rally point" -- the one marked on his map. They know his exact coordinates; what's the need for triangulation? Besides, doesn't triangulation (by definition) require receiving a radio signal from two different locations?

      Others have already commented on the director's annoying habit to go overboard with shaky cameras, slo-mo/speed-up effects, and rapid zooms. I think it was supposed to feel like war-zone journalism, but it ended up just feeling self-indulgent and forced.

      The general premise was indeed quite implausible, and the specifics defy belief as well. I've never served in the military, but I feel fairly confident asserting that if a pilot were shot down behind enemy lines, he would try to find cover rather than sit out in an open field next to his parachute. This goes doubly true in the mountains in winter, if only to maintain your body heat until you can be rescued!

      I could go on and on, but I don't want to waste any more of my life thinking about this stinking pile of crap. By the way, I'm not averse to seeing cheesy action movies in general -- this was just a particularly poorly conceived and executed one.

    • I really hated this movie as I haven't hated a movie in quite some time. I believe the director previously did commercials or music videos or something, and it really shows. Horrendously overdirected and overshot. Super fast cuts and pans. Awful sound cues...

      Wilson: "I've served my country for 7 years.. etc"
      Hackman: "You don't know the first thing about serving your country!"
      Music: Dum DUMMM!!!

      And I haven't even gotten to the "PLOT" yet.


      Our boy has half the Serb army shooting at him, nobody can hit him. Not even the bad ass sniper guy can hit him, when he's perched, stationary on a DAM for cryin out loud... Or how about running through that minefield, hitting all the tripwires. You could actually see debris (ie, shrapnel) flying into him. Not a scratch. Entire minutes tick by where bullets are whizzing right past his head. He only gets detected in the first place 'cuz he yells like an idiot so loud they can hear him hundreds of feet away.

      Positive notes: Hackman is decent as usual, and Wilson is watchable. Very cool aerial sequence at the beginning, and some OK action sequences scattered throughout. And of course, it IS a rather timely movie, considering recent events.

      Check out Ebert's review [], he gave it 1.5 stars. Seriously, this movie is so bad that after a while, I just got numb to the badness of it, and it started to seem almost good again. I think the Katz-bot is playing the underdog again. :)
  • I have never been a big fan on the moving shaky cam. Ugh. I get literally stomach sick. Me no likey.

    Some of the action seens seemed very unbeleivable, especially when Wilson's character wasn't smart enough to stay quiet when his pilot got shot, nor not to use his name (okay, so he "is only human") but can get into a Serb uniform and dress up another in no time.

    I have a lot of minor nitpicks but oh well. All in all a good movie. It was very aparent tho that the director started with directing video game comercials for Sega.

    Oh and Kick ASS missle doging scene.
    • I couldn't understand why they made such a big deal over using his "real name" over the airways. There aren't too many radio transmissions that go out over military radio that aren't encrypted. Especially a fancy pilot's hand-held "I just got shot down" radio. That seemed a bit silly.
      • At first I figured it was because he was using his old standy by regular radio waves. After thinking about it, when the plane first went down Hackman said "No Names." Maybe someone could have been on the bridge that heard who it was and leaked it to the press ... but he did that anyways. It is probably just military rule. My understanding is that you never give out your name over the radio.
  • I saw the movie on Friday and can honestly say it was not worth the $6 admission. Here are some of the reasons why (please note I'm not a modern war historian or what-not and could be totally wrong on some issues): -at the very end our hero main character is in the crossfire of 3 fully equipped apache helicopters firing all they got at the other side; where we see some 50 soldiers equipped neatly with ak-47s, 3 someodd tanks all firing, snipers galore; and he doesn't even get scratched. You can sum this up in one word: stupid. As he slides in to get the disk with the pictures on it he also nicely takes out some of the snipers with his handgun; stupid how he can take out some people with automatics and he doesnt get touched in the crossfire. -when the two ugly guys that are searching for the american are in the field where he was going to get rescued from they find his old clip; did you see how large that field was? What are the odds of you finding the one and only used clip from the american? -after the assisaniation of the pilot the navigator yells from the hills and they then realize there is another and fire upon the hills; once again our hero is not scaved as we see thousands of rounds narrowly miss him; once again totally unrealistic. -as our hero slides down the old dam or whatever it was the sniper convieniently misses him by inches each time; however the first shot missed to by the same distance; they are trying to tell us this slavic sniper can shoot and miss a moving target just as good as he can shoot and miss a non-mobile target... horrible... -driving to hac isn't it so perfect for the kid on the truck to have an ice cold (presumably) coca-cola? these are just a few of the stupid things about this movie. So the graphics were great... there was one part where the landmines blew up some of the enemies in slow motion and you saw their bodies bend and whatnot... very cool. But if you were planning to see this movie you may as well wait and get it cheaper at the video store. These are my comments not yours - please don't flame :)
    • They were following his foot trail. And they would obviously have known he was running and that there was somebody there with him.

      As for the sniper scene on the damn, no respectable sniper with that quality of a weapon would have taken a shot in the offhand. All he had to do was lay down, get into a stable position, calculate his range and windage, and slowly squeeze the trigger. Now how hard is that when your prey doesn't know you are there and is sitting stationary? That scene was a bit annoying.

      As for the sensational and unrealistic Hollywood effects of the movie, would you really have preferred the realistic scenario in which the highly disciplined pilot doesn't stray from his flight path, doesn't get shot down, and gets out of the military several days after Christmas after being bent over one last time by his CO?
  • I liked the comment at the end of the Globe & Mail's review: "No doubt Behind Enemy Lines will make all uncomplicated Americans feel proud of their military. That the movie is about an entire army pursuing one dangerous man through the mountains is just one of life's complicated little ironies."
  • To be honest, I wasn't that impressed with the movie. It wasn't terribly realistic, the plot was a little weak, every character except the pilot was too one-dimensional, and the cinematography nearly made me sick (really).

    Did anyone notice how the Serbian Adidas guy at the end got shot like five times by the pilot, and still had enough strength to shoot his sniper rifle, shoot his pistol, and get into a fistfight with our hero? Or how the pilot ran across a snow- and ice-covered lake not once but three times while being shot at by a company of soldiers and a few tanks (and slid on his ass the last thirty feet back to his ejection seat, which was completely ridiculous) without getting touched? Or the real-time six-inch-resolution infrared satellite the admiral was able to commandeer?

    The plot didn't have any major mistakes like the ones listed above. It was a good story, but it could have been so much better. In particular, the director could have focused more on the people on the ground fighting the war. Make the movie maybe fifteen minutes longer, have the pilot talk longer to more people, and get us to be sympathetic with (or at least better informed about) one side in the conflict or another.

    Excluding the pilot (and maybe Hackman's character), I thought everyone was one-dimensional. Who's the guy dressed in civvies with the big rifle? Just a sniper. Who's the evil admiral that comes in and shuts down the rescue mission? Oh, just some evil admiral. There wasn't any explanation as to why some people were doing what they were doing, just that it was happening. Or if there was an explanation, maybe i was too busy being sick to notice.

    Honestly. The director was in love with the hand-carried shaky camera effect and circling the camera around a point of interest (dramatic for a pilot sitting on top of a mountain, but for people standing still having a conversation?). Let me tell you, neither of these are very good for you if you've just eaten an 18-oz. steak and you're sitting in the second row of the theater (big group, opening night, got there late). He was evidently a big fan of the Snatch-style "speed-up, stop, and go" camera shot as well. This was just irritating, as it took away the sense of continuity in the scene.

    Wow, this got long quick. Ok, this movie had a chance to be great. Instead, it was marred by an unfulfilling plot and unrealistic effects. I wouldn't say it was a waste of my seven bucks, but I'd suggest waiting until it's out on DVD and renting it.

  • 1. Ejection parachutes are not steerable parasails; there is no assurance that an ejecting pilot will have the physical capability of manipulating parasail controls. He could be unconscious, have broken arms, etc. Additionally, parasails have higher landing velocities than parachutes, with higher risk of injuries as a result; this would also be contraindicated for a possibly-already-injured pilot.

    2. Explosions, even those from little antiperonnel landmines, cannot be outrun.

    3. It's an interesting chain of command that places a tinhorn French NATO admiral in apparent command of a United States Carrier Vessel Battle Group. Unbelieveable, even. In real life, there is roughly zero chance that Reichert would take orders from a foreign power; if his commanding officers wanted him to leave the navigator to die on foreign soil, and not make a rescue attempt because of treaty concerns, they'd damn well tell him that personally.

    4. Same goes for interference with the rescue once it had been okayed. Those French commandoes aren't even allowed to be on the carrier at all without the CO's permission, but they can commandeer the rescue op without it?

    5. Nobody with even a modicum of training would carry an AK-47 sideways like some punk with a 9 in a John Woo movie.

    6. The navigator did absolutely everything wrong. His first step upon landing was to run downhill, shouting at the top of his lungs. He did not move his wounded pilot to any sort of cover, but left him lying on the ground next to his *brightly colored parasail*. He seemed to intentionally search out ridgelines to silhouette himself against, and only learned not to sit out in the open on high ground once he'd been *shot at*. Real evasion doesn't entail running full speed from place to place, because noise is going to give you away far more readily than vision. You move *quietly*. Wilson's character either forgot or intentionally disregarded just about every single bit of his training.

    7. When was the last time Marines flew UH-1s off of nuclear carriers? For an extraction, they'd be going on H-53s.

    8. When facing a hostile force of armored vehicles with large-caliber automatic weapons, the last place you want to be is *hovering* at close range in a helicopter. Minigun or no minigun.

    9. The extraction was nothing like an extraction would be. You put a helicopter on the ground, many Marines exit the helicopter, grab the pilot, disarm the pilot, and drag him on board. He would not be *allowed* to return to his ejection seat, which for some reason contained important recording equipment. You would not send one Marine on a rappel to dangle in midair to catch the pilot when he makes a death-defying leap. If the pilot was in contact with enemy forces, well, that's one reason why those A-6s were visible on the flight deck early in the movie; they'd have been used.

    8. A 2-star would not ride along on the lead aircraft. If these events played out IRL, *that* is why he'd have lost his command. Not for the rescue, but for the ride-along.

    9. Missiles are not evaded in that fashion. If you have a SAM launched at you, it's over in one way or the other in 20 seconds. Missiles smart enough to ignore your flares are not going to home in on the decidedly un-planelike signature of burning kerosene.

    That is all. Entertaining movie nonetheless, but *boy*.
  • Besides publishing users' comments for profit, committing plagarism, and reporting forwarded emails as news, Katz shows his pride in his work by turning in articles that are always laced with factual and gramatical errors. Since everyone always posts them anyway, lets just centralize them in one thread:

    Top Dog instead of Top Gun

    special affects instead of special effects

    Bosnian soldiers instead of Serbian soldiers.

    Explain again why he gets a paycheck?

    Please add.

  • I played a lot of Falcon 3.0 and Mig29, and I can say that these SAM missles travel at THOUSANDS of miles per hour. You only need to dodge these things ONCE; they can't turn around, sneak up on you, hide in the bushes, and then appear on your tail again. Your best bet is to head towards the missle, with the missle slightly above you, about 30 degrees, and then at the last instant pull up into the missle's trail; the missle can't possible make such a sharp turn and loses its lock.
    • Re:SAM Missles (Score:2, Informative)

      by BigBir3d ( 454486 )
      That is only true for stand alone style missiles, and even those will scan for a target until they run ouf of fuel. It also dependent on the tracking mechanism, is it thermal, radar etc.

      Newer equipment communicates with the launcher to give updates on co-ordinates as it goes in, as well as after you "dodge" it...

      Basing reality on a computer game is not such a good idea. Especially in a technology based arena.
  • Anyone know the type of missle the SAM was that shot the plane down?
  • Filthy Critic (Score:2, Informative)

    by ink ( 4325 )
    And for those of us who disagree with Katz' movie takes most of the time, it's refreshing to note that the Filthy Critic gave it only 2 fingers: []

  • please? my coop needs more computer junis
  • 1) The generic villain/sniper has a huge sniper rifle with a bipod, yet chooses to try to shoot Owen from a standing position from hundreds of yards away. I guess he's mastered his heart beat, breathing, and body shakes. Well, no, he kept missing.

    2) On the boat, er, aircraft carrier (sorry, navy guys ;), someone says something along the lines of "the terrain is too rough, we can't reach him by radio, and even satellites won't work until he gets to better ground." Uh, unless he's in a cave, no terrain is that rough.. after all, a few scenes later they show a view from a sattelite directly overhead.

    3) Owen makes it to the one of the RPs (rendezvous point) and radios in. Shortly thereafter he sees the enemy and has to break off radio contact. Gene demands to know where he is. Uh, he's at the RP, moron. Then someone pipes up, "We'll triangulate his position!" How? HE STOPPED TRANSMITTING!

    4) Owen is able to outrun, on foot, the combined artillery of multiple tanks, armored vehicles, and dozens of soldiers. Way to go, superman.

    5) SuperOwen is also able to be unaffected by and outrun the blasts of multiple anti-personnel trip-mines, immediately after they show someone (with cool CG effects) being splattered by a mine that went off at the same distance away as the ones that are exploding around Owen.

    6) The generic sniper-villain uses his bolt-action rifle as an assault weapon to fire at Owen from a few feet away. Anyone who didn't want to die would've used a pistol.

    7) Three lightly-armed transport helicopters are able to destroy multiple tanks, armored vehicles, and dozens of soldiers without taking any hits. Those armored vehicles had multiple cannons and heavy machine guns that would've made short work of the helicopters that were just hovering there waiting to get shot down.

    8) Hanging the Marine off a rope from the helicopter and having Owen jump and grab his hand was just retarded.

    Then there's the plot. If our (I'm an American) military was that undisciplined, we'd've lost our paddle somewhere up shit creek.
  • by volpe ( 58112 ) on Sunday December 02, 2001 @06:10PM (#2644480)

    The two major actors -- Gene Hackman and Owen Wilson -- are terrific, balancing and complimenting one another.

    Wilson: Gene, your rendition of a strong self-confident military commander was so... so "Patton-esque". You were absolutely brilliant.

    Hackman: Why, thank you! But, Owen my boy, your portrayal of a solder with keen survival instincts reveals the Rambo hidden in every man. Inspiring, to say the least.

    Wilson: You are too kind, dear sir.

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.