Film / Behind Enemy Lines

Behind Enemy Lines is a 2001 action movie directed by John Moore, starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman.

Lt. Chris Burnett (Wilson) a U.S. Navy flight officcer who gets shot down over Bosnia and has to 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 Burnett's crew inadvertently photographed mass graves. Running ensues. Meanwhile, a task force led by Rear Admiral Reigart (Hackman) embarks on an (unauthorized) rescue mission to try and rescue Burnett.

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.
  • 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.
  • Caught in the Bad Part of Town: The hero has obtained evidence of war crimes before being shot down over hostile territory.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Inter Service Rivalry: NATO command and the U.S. Navy in the first movie, specifically Admiral Piquet and Admiral Reigart.
  • 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?
  • Oh, Crap!: A truly magnificent one in the original film.
    Chris: "Holy shit! We're being painted!"
    Jeremy: "What?!"
  • 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
  • Wham Line: From the original...
    Chris: "Golden Eagle, Archangel, we've been engaged!"
  • 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 U.S. pilot did get shot down, but that's about it.
    • The pilot in real life was USAF, whereas the film version is U.S. Navy.