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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Holiday Mission

Behind Enemy Lines on IMDb

Plot Overview

photographerAn uneasy truce to a chimerical, Hollywood version of the Bosnian War is about to be consummated with a peace treaty when two Navy airmen are sent on a sortie to photo­graph a harm­less lake with their new digital camera. Flight Navigator Lt. Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) persuades his pilot Lt. Jeremy Stack­house (Gabriel Macht) to divert over a no-fly, demilitarized zone to recon some suspicious activity seen on their scope (“We're not supposed to fly that sector, Chris. The brass will have a sh!t-fit.”) General Miroslav Lokar (Olek Krupa) whose Bosnian-Serb Fourth Army Patrol is engaged in disallowed maneuvers orders the Navy fighter jet shot down putting one crew­man on the run and the other up for execution.

saplingsIn the prosperous Muslim town of Hač, “Lokar killed everyone, children and women, and buried them up there in the hills.” Serb Volunteer Guard soldiers consigned the massacred civilians to mass graves. Then they set about reforesting the war-scarred escarpment with rows of saplings. Changing weather brought a snow melt, and the water having no ground cover to absorb it, found new paths to run off into, cutting a gully through the ad hoc grave site, exposing the bodies to the plane's camera and to the American's eyes. The airman needs to return with this evidence, but his rescue is hampered by politics.


Lt. Burnett had pooh-poohed this supposed “war” they're engaged in, because for him it's been nothing but endless drills and false alarms, at most a police action in an unpopular environment. He says, “Every­body thinks they're gonna get a chance to punch some Nazi in the face in Normandy, but those days are over. They're long gone.” His commander Admiral Leslie Reigart (Gene Hackman) thinks that's “not the best attitude,” that it can get him killed if he doesn't take his deployment seriously. From personal experience I was communicating with radio amateurs in Belgrade during the Bosnian War, and they sure thought it a war when they were being “bombed by NATO bandits.” I got that from the horse's mouth.

vigilant kidThe gig is up when Chris observes from a distance what happens to his captured pilot whom Lokar considers a liability (“They killed my pilot because we took pictures of the graves.”) As writer Steve Berry puts it, “Those national interests … require extra­ordinary measures to safe­guard. Not ones I normally resort to within our borders, but here, I have no choice” (196.) Chris's knee-jerk reaction to what he witnesses from a distance is a shout of, “NO!” alerting Lokar's men there's another downed airman out there, and the chase is on. It's an instance of, (Prov. 30:32) “If thou hast done foolishly in lifting up thyself, or if thou hast thought evil, lay thine hand upon thy mouth.” Now he's got to stop whining and follow his commander's advice, “Zero-six, you've been shot down, life is tough. You're a combat aviator! Start acting like one! Remember your training, put some angles between you and your pursuers. Evade and survive and we will bring you home! You got that? We WILL bring you home!”

Production Values

” (2001) was directed by John Moore. Its screenplay was written by David Veloz based on a story by Jim Thomas & John Thomas. It stars Gene Hackman, Owen Wilson and Gabriel Macht. Hackman's talent was wasted here, Wilson is coming into his own, and Macht made a like­able pilot who ended as a lot of them do. Vladimir Mashkov plays a cookie-cutter villain who won't haunt any­body's dreams, but his prison-hardened tracker Sasha (Vladimir Mashkov) is a work.

APPROVEDMPAA rated it PG–13 for war violence and some language. Too much cursing in God's name to suit me. The DoD gave the film crew access to a couple carriers, which resulted in a lot of authenticity, but then they added dramatic embellish­ments for the sake of the story. The pre-flight sequence on the F–18 included arming the ejection seats, a step that was neglected in Maverick's movie. The relentless action is broken up with comedic moments. It's 1¾ hours long.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This was an altogether satisfying movie in the American hero vein. If you're into that kind of thing, you won't go wrong here, though there be bigger productions out there. Female presence is minimal. Historical basis is loose.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Berry, Steve. The King's Deception. Copy­right © 2013 by Steve Berry. New York: Ballantine Books, 2013. Print.