Behind Enemy Lines is a 2001 action and war film directed by John Moore, and starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. The film is centered on the story of an American naval flight officer who was shot down over Bosnia and ends up uncovering a massacre during the Bosnian conflict. The plot itself is loosely based on the Mrkonjić Grad incident that occurred in 1995 amid the war. The film was followed by two direct-to-video sequels, Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil and Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia, which was co-produced by WWE Studios. In the final stages of a NATO peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in December 1995, US Navy naval flight officer Lieutenant Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) and pilot Lieutenant Jeremy Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht), who are stationed on an aircraft carrier in the Adriatic Sea, are assigned a reconnaissance mission over Bosnia. During the reconnaissance mission, they spot suspicious activity in the demilitarized zone, in which armed factions are not allowed to engage in military activity; NATO aircraft are also prohibited from entering the area. Burnett persuades Stackhouse to fly their F/A-18 Hornet off-course to get a close look at the target and photograph it.
Owen Wilson may be better suited to romantic comedies and indie Wes Anderson flicks, but he is nevertheless a great actor, and he does a great job as Chris “Longhorn” Burnett, a disillusioned Navy navigator who winds up on the run from Serbian rebels in Kosovo after veering off course during a routine recon mission. Meanwhile, Gene Hackman does his usual bang-up job — acting like a hungry dog given a meaty bone — as his superior officer, Commander Reigart, who fights through red tape on the homefront, battling against political blowhards who would rather leave Burnett to the wolves than send in a rescue squad, which could create a political catastrophe (see also Spy Game). With a Russian tracker and Serbian rebels on his heels — and a Steadicam operator pacing them all — Burnett crisscrosses the Serbian terrain like John Rambo minus the big knife, while Reigart fights to bring him home.
The technical aspects of Behind Enemy Lines are the best part of the film. Don’t worry too much about the story and script, which is Surviving the Game crossed with Top Gun. The effects are tense and downright unnerving — SAM missiles chasing jets, explosions rocketing bodies into the air, and enough firepower whizzing by to keep you on the edge of your seat.