By Michael Sauter
Updated April 23, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT
Behind Enemy Lines: Jurgen Vollmer

”I didn’t want to be a cop in a neighborhood no one cares about,” complains peacekeeping Navy flyboy Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) just before getting shot down over Bosnia in Behind Enemy Lines. Then the filmmakers show how little they care about their setting by reducing the war-ravaged Balkans to a conveniently violent backdrop for their escapist chase flick. ”Behind Enemy Lines” doesn’t want to make you think. It just wants to keep you pumped.

This, however, is overkill: fast, loud, visually chaotic, with enough obstacle-course escapes and CGI explosions to stoke a videogame. Left with little to do but run, Wilson improbably dodges bullets, tank shells, and land mines en route to a ludicrously over-the-top finale that pits the U.S. military against villainous Serbs. Not content merely to trivialize real events, the movie invents this climactic battle, presumably to give Wilson a chance to look like an action hero. Meanwhile, the people he blows away remain as anonymous as Apaches in a 1950s Western. Who are they? What are they fighting for? Why were we there? Why ask? In a mindless thrill ride like this, such questions couldn’t matter less.

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