Wiki Headlines
It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Film: Behind Enemy Lines
Behind Enemy Lines is a 2001 movie starring Owen Wilson as Lt. Chris Burnett, a Flight Navigator who gets shot down over Bosnia and has survive while trapped behind enemy lines. The Serbian force that is after him and which summarily executed his pilot is especially tenacious because during their recon mission they inadvertently photographed mass graves. Running ensues.

The film was followed by three direct-to-video sequels, Behind Enemy Lines 2: Axis of Evil, Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia, and SEAL Team 8: Behind Enemy Lines.

Tropes featured include:

  • Action Girl: Zoe in the fourth film, the first example of such in the series.
    • Big Bad / Dark Action Girl: She's actually Malen, the mysterious arms dealer that the CIA knows nothing about yet is still working with, and is playing the SEAL team for fools.
  • Adrenaline Time: Used quite frequently.
  • Artifact Title: SEAL Team 8 is pretty much this. The "enemy lines" are rather vague and hazy, and more importantly they stay in contact with base. For most of the time, they have a Predator drone watching over them.
  • Attack Drone: A Predator drone sees heavy use in the fourth film.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Played straight in Axis of Evil (though he did die at roughly the same time as the other team member) but averted in SEAL Team 8 where Jay is the only member of the team besides Case to survive.
  • Bullet Time: Used in the scene where Serbian troops set off a minefield while chasing Burnett.
  • California Doubling: Most of the exteriors were actually filmed in more remote parts of Slovakia instead of Bosnia. Most of the supposedly Serbian military vehicles were lent for shooting by the Slovak Army and disguised a bit to look more like 90s ex-Yugoslav hardware.
  • The Caligula: General Ntonga in the fourth film is introduced gunning down an innocent villager simply for being on the wrong side. We next see him relaxing at a pool party with A Lady on Each Arm listening to loud music.
  • Coitus Ensues: While spending the night in a non-hostile village, Zoe and Case end up rooming together. Predictably...
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Zoe was captured and tortured by Ntonga, explaining her violent reaction to him when he starts taunting her. She was faking it. Later, when Jay is captured, she beats the living hell out of him, just for the fun of it.
  • Cold Sniper: Sasha.
  • Covered in Mud: Happens to the protagonist when he is forced to hide among the bodies in a mass grave.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The statue, the letter, the tracking device... there's actually a lot.
  • Darkest Africa: SEAL Team 8 uses the more modern depiction of the trope, with genocidal warlords oppressing helpless villagers. The climax of the film takes place in what initially seems to be a normal, modern city, but that gets turned on its head when it turns out nearly everyone on the street is packing some kind of firearm. The shootout that ensues even results in most of the normal people degenerating into a chaotic riot and arming themselves with whatever Improvised Weapon they can find.
  • Guns Akimbo: Sasha at one point dual wields his own CZ 75B pistol and the Beretta 92SB he took from Stackhouse, firing both of them at Burnett when he spots him.
    • General Ntonga in the fourth film starts blasting away at the Navy SEAL team with dual pistols. One of them looks golden.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: The Navy SEALs in the sequels.
  • Fake Nationality: All of the Serbian characters were portrayed by Croatian actors, probably because no Westerner can tell the difference and no self-respecting Serbian actor would play the stereotypical role of the bad guy terrorist.
    • To be honest, no Serbian or Croatian person could tell the difference, either. Not even by accent, since accents depend on where the person is from, rather than what ethnicity they are - a person born in Belgrade is going to have a different accent from a person born in Bosnia or Croatia, but people from a certain part of Croatia or Bosnia will have the same accents regardless of their ethnicity.
  • Gatling Good: The Hueys used to rescue Burnett are armed with Miniguns in addition to unguided rockets. Burnett & Stackhouse's F/A-18F Super Hornet also has a built-in Vulcan rotary cannon, but it's not used in the film.
  • Gauls with Grenades: The French Army Special Forces accompanied the US Marines in the rescue mission.
  • Good-Looking Privates: The female comms officer Collins in the fourth movie is very pretty. Then again, she's played by South African model Tanya van Graan.
  • Guy in Back: The hero is a Weapons Systems Officer, not a pilot.
  • High-Speed Missile Dodge: Subverted in that it doesn't work.
  • His Name Is...: Ntonga was about to say something regarding Zoe when she suddenly grabs a machete off a rack and puts it through his neck.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: At the end, Burnett is fleeing through open ground in the snow but isn't hit once by the fire from dozens of Serbian paramilitary troops, mobile anti-aircraft batteries, snipers, and even a tank. Instead only one poor U.S. Red Shirt in a helicopter is hit by the salvo of destruction.
  • In Name Only: All of the sequels.
  • Keep It Foreign: Invoked by Roger Ebert in his review of this movie, also provides the page quote.
  • Mood Whiplash: After Dan gets killed in the fourth movie, the rest of the team is understandably upset and they take a moment to rest near a river while grieving the loss. Meanwhile, Case goes to dress Zoe's gunshot injury... and winds up flirting with her while he bandages her. Seriously?
  • North Koreans with Nodongs: The villains of Axis of Evil.
  • One-Man Army: After Jay gets captured, Case turns into this when he runs into a nearby city to rescue him.
  • Pink Mist: Dan in SEAL Team 8 gets plastered with an RPG and turns into this.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    Reigart: Our man is down behind enemy lines, now what the fuck is the problem?!
  • Product Placement: At one point, Chris hitches a ride with some guerrillas and one of them offers him a Coke. He drinks it, and says it's good.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The second movie's plot is based on an enormous explosion in 2004 in Ryanggang. The explosion's true cause is still unknown, and the U.S., South Korea, & North Korea all all gave contradicting stories on what caused it. The film goes with the explanation that SEAL Team One was sent into North Korea to sabotage a nuclear missile under construction.
  • Semper Fi: The US Marines make up the bulk of the rescue force that saves Burnett.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: Obviously
  • Where Are They Now: Details what happened after the actions in the film.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Case. Especially as Zoe turned out to be lying to him all along and got three of his men killed, and abused the crap out of the last one.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Mass graves did happen, and a US pilot did get shot down, but that's about it.
  • The Yugoslav Wars: The setting for this story.

Batman ForeverCreator/Illusion ArtsBlade Runner
The Beast Of WarMilitary and Warfare FilmsThe Blue Max
A Beautiful MindFilms of 2000 - 2004 Betelnut Beauty

alternative title(s): Behind Enemy Lines
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy