Behind Enemy Lines (2001) - Rotten Tomatoes

Behind Enemy Lines (2001)



Critic 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.

Behind Enemy Lines Trailers & Photos

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), thinks that the brash pilot doesn't have what it takes to be in the millitary, but the eager young officer soon gets the chance to prove his mettle. While conducting a routine photographic reconnaissance over a remote area of the Balkans, Burnett captures grisly images that serve as proof of genocidal crimes, but his plane is blown out of the sky. He's soon pursued on the ground by the forces of Lokar (Olek Krupa), a Serbian paramilitary leader intent on covering up unthinkable crimes, while Reigert defies the NATO orders of his superior (Joaquim de Almeida) and risks his career to mount a covert rescue mission. Behind Enemy Lines (2001), the first of two back-to-back releases starring Wilson and Hackman (the other being The Royal Tenenbaums), also stars David Keith, Gabriel Macht, and Charles Malik Whitfield. ~ Karl Williams, Rovimore
Rating: PG-13 (for war violence and some language)
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By: James Thomas, Jim Thomas, John Thomas, David Veloz, Zak Penn
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 23, 2002
Box Office: $58.8M
20th Century Fox - Official Site


Owen Wilson
as Lt. Chris Burnett
Gene Hackman
as Adm. Reigart
Gabriel Macht
as Stackhouse
David Keith
as O'Malley
Eyal Podell
as Petty Officer Kenned...
Geoffrey Pierson
as Adm. Donnelly
Sam Jaeger
as Red Crown Operator N...
Shane Mikael Johnson
as Red Crown Operator N...
Don Winston
as Red Crown Operator N...
Elizabeth Perry
as Red Crown Operator N...
Igor Hajdarhodzic
as Serb Spotter
Tarik Filipovic
as Serb Soldier
Peter Palka
as Serb Soldier at Loka...
Todd Boyce
as Junior Officer
Leon Russom
as Ed Burnett
Goran Grgic
as Technician
Ivan Urbanek
as Father in Minefield
Ismet Bagtasevic
as Muslim Passenger
Kamil Mikulcik
as Tiger No. 1
Vedrana Seksan
as Serb Anchor
Filip Nola
as Serb Soldier at Mass...
Bumper Robinson
as SCIF Technician
Ann Sorum
as Mom Burnett
George Davis
as Sky News Cameraman
Tom Mooney
as Carrier Commanding O...
Mark Bocchetti
as Navy Rep.
Lucia Srncova
as Muslim Girl
Daniel Margolius
as Muslim Teenager
Robert Franko
as Tiger No. 2
Lukas Hoffman
as Tiger No. 3
Jared Chandler
as Piquet's Aide
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Behind Enemy Lines

Critic Reviews for Behind Enemy Lines

All Critics (148) | Top Critics (38)

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

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)

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.

Alex roy

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

Behind Enemy Lines Quotes

– Submitted by Joseph B (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Max H (4 years ago)
– Submitted by Dennis L (4 years ago)

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