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Behind Enemy Lines (2001)


Average Rating: 4.8/10
Reviews Counted: 130
Fresh: 48
Rotten: 82

Critics Consensus: 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.

Average Rating: 4.4/10
Reviews Counted: 32
Fresh: 11
Rotten: 21

Critics Consensus: 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.


Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 321,109


Movie Info

A television commercial for a Sega game system that aired during the 1999 MTV Music Video Awards landed debut director John Moore a gig behind the camera of this military action thriller. Owen Wilson stars as Lt. Chris Burnett, a naval aviator aboard the U.S.S. Carl Vinson who's frustrated with the strict "hands-off" political policies that prevent him from experiencing combat against hostile Bosnian forces in his F/A-18 Superhornet jet. Burnett's commander, Admiral Reigert (Gene Hackman), … More

PG-13 (for war violence and some language)
Drama , Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By:
Zak Penn , David Veloz , John Thomas , James Thomas
In Theaters:
Apr 23, 2002
Box Office:
20th Century Fox - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Behind Enemy Lines

All Critics (148) | Top Critics (38) | Fresh (48) | Rotten (82) | DVD (32)

The filmmakers do their best to distract us, but eventually it becomes hard to ignore that Behind Enemy Lines is one long chase sequence.

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

An old-fashioned game of the cinematic cat-and-mouse, soldier-on-the-run variety.

December 8, 2001
Washington Post
Top Critic

The only thing certain about Behind Enemy Lines is that Mr. Wilson is in it for the chance to work with Mr. Hackman, and Mr. Hackman is in it for the money.

Full Review… | December 6, 2001
New York Observer
Top Critic

Action movie with intense peril and devastation.

Full Review… | October 14, 2010
Common Sense Media

From its prosaic title to its convenient timeliness, this valentine to U.S. military guys hamstrung by officious NATO bureaucrats could hardly seem less promising

Full Review… | January 7, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

That's just one of many reasons why I'm reluctant to call Behind the Lines entertainment. Propaganda, MTV-style, might be closer to the truth.

Full Review… | June 25, 2004

A satisfying enough piece of giddy-up entertainment that raises a few passing questions about the American 'cowboy mentality' before ultimately deciding it's a lot more fun to simply eat your action movie cake than try to have it too.

Full Review… | July 18, 2003
Entertainment Today

Behind Enemy Lines crosses into the ugly side of patriotism.

Full Review… | May 30, 2003
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

Plays more like a recruitment video for the US military than any serious examination of conflict.

Full Review… | January 30, 2003

This film was so uninspired and bad, it is difficult to find anything positive to say about it.

Full Review… | December 8, 2002

It's pure adventure hokum, despite some end captions which are put up as though the events portrayed really happened (they didn't).

Full Review… | November 10, 2002
Daily Mail [UK]

Military thriller aims high and misses the barn door by a mile.

Full Review… | November 7, 2002

There isn't a single surprise, but there is a lot of hokey (and mostly too loud) music, along with tired visuals (parachuting over a snow-clad angel statue is one) and stuff blowing up.

Full Review… | October 21, 2002
San Diego Metropolitan

Works pretty well as long as you don't pay too much attention to what anyone says and just let the action sweep you along.

Full Review… | October 15, 2002
Cincinnati Enquirer

It is flawed, often-breathless entertainment anchored to the confusion, complexities and horrors of current armed and ethnic conflicts.

Full Review… | October 10, 2002
Sacramento News & Review

The whole endeavor is wound up in heroic pontificating that renders it boring and cornily pretentious.

Full Review… | September 3, 2002

Forgettable Hollywood war movie that begs you to leave your brain at home...

Full Review… | July 9, 2002

Ejemplo de un cine de acción fresco que buena falta le hace al mercado hollywoodense.

Full Review… | June 11, 2002

La cinta, pese a su altísima carga patriotera y su narrativa tipo Rambo logra mostrarnos la crudeza de la guerra de Bosnia.

May 25, 2002

Goes over the top and beyond in grandly heroic and even superheroic style, in a way unmatched by any war movie since Rambo: First Blood Part II.

Full Review… | May 9, 2002
Decent Films Guide

Not even Hackman's typical self-assurance can save this stock military thriller.

April 24, 2002
Movie Metropolis

Flag-waving claptrap--a self-congratulating mess of an action movie.

Full Review… | February 26, 2002
Mark Reviews Movies

Audience Reviews for Behind Enemy Lines


Behind Enemy Lines is a decent action film. The film is a departure for Owen Wilson who has worked exclusively in the comedy genre. Behind Enemy Lines is not a perfect film, but for what it is, the film succeeds somewhat at being entertaining despite the fact that the film at times fails at displaying a conventional, believable plot. If you can forget that aspect of the film, you may be able to enjoy it. I did like the film, but it's not one of those films that I'll watch again anytime soon. The film is entertaining for what it is, but it never does succeed at being an effective and good action that will really astound you. Owen Wilson is decent here, and Gene Hackman is wasted here however. The film could have been much better than this, but for the most part, it's a pleasant time waster that does entertain despite its somewhat ludicrous plot. The film is nothing I'd call great, but for what it is, it succeeds at being mindless entertainment. Behind Enemy Lines is a popcorn flick pure and simple. Though this film could have been better, Behind Enemy Lines is a decent film that manages to entertain, and be mindless, fun entertainment. The film could have been worse, but the end result is a decent action film that delivers some decent action despite the fact that the film lacks any strong plot development to really make this a memorable action film to watch. Worth watching at least once.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer


Prepare to cross the line.

Very good movie! It's shocking to see Owen Wilson in this film since usually his roles are in comedies but he did quite good as a air force soldier. The story was interesting and in a few moments intense, not bat at all.

Lt. Chris Burnett has lost faith in his job in the Navy and wants to get out, and is even forced to do a reconnaissance mission with his friend Lt. Jeremy Stackhouse over Bosnia. During the mission, they fly their jet off course to check out a suspicious target that turns out to be the site of a mass grave that contains bodies of Bosnian Muslims. The main perpetrator of the massacre, Gen. Miroslav Lokar, has the plane shot down in order to avoid having the plane obtaining evidence of the massacre. Stackhouse ends up getting killed, while Burnett finds himself alone on the run from Lokar's ruthless soldiers. Burnett's commanding officer, Rear Admiral Leslie Reigart, has trouble gaining approval from his own commanding officers to carry out a search-and-rescue mission to save Burnett. From encountering a major battle in a war-torn town, to mine fields, to Serb soldiers seeking the pilot, and to a highly skilled sniper, will Burnett be able to escape Bosnia, or will he suffer the same fate of his comrade?

Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

Superb and touching action-thriller film. The action sequences and visual effects are superb. The missile-jet scene has some of the best surround sound I have ever heard in an action scene, along with super visuals. Owen Wilson's travails, as he tries to stay alive in hostile territory while red-tape holds up his rescue efforts, are fascinating. The action scenes are quite different, too.
The characters were solid, and director John Moore emphiseses the war - torn cities of Bosnia quite well. Wilson is excellent at portraying a character way out of his comfort zone, and Vladimir Mashkov's chilling as a Serbian sniper.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

No deeper analyze is required as to why this has received such heavy critism. It's naive, stupid and questionably executed. Just take the choice of music for example, which in some places sounds like something out of a high school comedy. Also to add to the list of negatives is the unfitting humor. Some of it works, but too often it doesn't. If this was an action-comedy I'd been fine with it, but in regard to the seriousness of the story, it feels completely out of place. Too much joking around, when the characters ought to have survival on their mind. It's as if it's been directed by a kid whose playing war with real actors. No sense of thought behind his actions and with camera movements so irratic, it appears random and unplanned. Moreover, the fact that they hired Owen Wilson to play the main character, is like letting Robin Williams star as Jason Bourne. Not the most suitable choice. What speaks for it in positive terms though, is the action. I can't say it ever bored me, and it's got enough excitement value to keep you watching. So in the larger frame of things, it's not half-bad. Just lacking a soul and a brain and some meat on its legs. For such a skeleton of a movie though, it sure knows how to run and keep a good pace.

Mike S

Super Reviewer

Behind Enemy Lines Quotes

Lt. Chris Burnett:
You've got to be shitting me!
– Submitted by Joseph B (2 years ago)
Yet another useless joyride at the cost of mere millions to the US taxpayer.
– Submitted by Max H (2 years ago)
Burnett! Zero six, you are a combat naval aviator. Start acting like one. You've been shot down. Life is tough. I am very sorry. Now you pull yourself together. You do whatever it takes. Create some angles between you and your pursuers. Use your training. Use your head. Evade and survive, and we will bring you home. Do you understand? We will bring you home!
– Submitted by Dennis L (3 years ago)

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