Lieutenant Chris Burnett is a top naval aviator who is frustrated that fragile geo-politics have kept him from what he knows best: flying F/A-18 Superhornet jets into combat. \"We\'re watching, not fighting,\" he tells Admiral Reigart, who thinks Burnett hasn\'t really learned what it means to be a soldier. During a routine reconnaissance mission, Burnett photographs something no one was meant to see and is shot down. Trapped behind enemy lines, Burnett struggles to survive the relentless pursuit of a ruthless secret police enforcer, a deadly tracker and countless hostile troops. With time running out, Reigart makes the wrenching decision to set aside the rules of the tightly controlled world in which he operates and risk his career to launch a renegade rescue mission to save the life of one solider.
This taut contemporary wartime thriller set in the Balkans is a machine-tooled rescue drama that sustains a relentless buzzing energy. Owen Wilson is a cocky naval aviator, Burnett, who breaks the rules and is shot down by Serbian anti-aircraft weapons during a reconnaissance mission. Gene Hackman is his commander, Admiral Reigart, who violates the ceasefire in effect and authorizes a rescue mission. If the dual manhunt and race-against-time stories are strictly formulaic, the movie is swiftly paced, well acted and very much in the gung-ho patriotic spirit of the moment. – Stephen Holden
2001-11-30 | Stephen Holden | Read the New York Times Review of Behind Enemy Lines