Occasionally a movie comes along that surprises you. You go in expecting one thing and come out thinking something completely different.
When the first Behind Enemy Lines movie was released in 2001, we saw a very different side of Owen Wilson as he played Fighter Navigator Chris Burnett and tries to survive being shot down in hostile territory. I never had a chance to see Behind Enemy Lines II: Axis of Evil when it was released in 2006. But this year’s Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia got my attention, so I thought I’d check it out.
This time, we see a group of Navy SEALS going into Colombia to scout a potentially explosive situation affecting U.S. interests in the region. The drug war still rages there every day between a group of well trained and outfitted soldiers protecting the drug trade and the Colombian army and police forces. There was to be a peace negotiated between the factions, but when an unknown third group attacks and slaughters most of the delegates, the SEALS get caught in the middle and blamed for the incident.
Shot in Puerto Rico and directed by Tim Matheson (who also appears in the film), Mr. Kennedy of WWE fame, Joe Manganiello, Channon Roe, Chris J. Johnson, and Antony Matos play the five member SEAL team stranded and left high and dry in an attempt by politicians to avoid an international incident. Of course, SEALS never say die, so they fight their way to clearing their names and telling their story.
I have to admit that I’m not a WWE fan (though I know at least one family member who is), so I was unaware of Mr. Kennedy. In my non-WWE household, he’s not a name that gets thrown around much. But I have to say he wasn’t bad in the role of Chief Carter Holt in the movie.
This Direct-to-DVD movie is the product of a relationship between WWE Studios and Fox Filmed Entertainment (FFE – part of Twentieth Century Fox). Evidently this is only the first project from this collaboration and additional movies may be distributed to theaters, as digital releases, or on DVD in the future. With the WWE brand, these projects will obviously incorporate WWE talent and themes, capitalizing on the brand awareness of the WWE and Twentieth Century Fox.
What did I like about this film? It was easy to get into. Was the plot complex? Not really. Was the acting Oscar-worthy? Probably not. But it was accessible. I rooted for the good guys. The bad guys were doing this for their own good reasons. And the action was great. Lots of bullets, explosions, and pretty cinematography of the jungles and few sets used for the film.
What didn’t I like? Honestly I really enjoyed the film. There’s one scene in the first big battle of the film where one of the SEALS dies in a hail of gunfire. Unfortunately, you can see what appears to be a red paintball splash on the actor’s chest. To make matters worse, they show the same scene again later in the film. But other than that, I thought it was a great renter and a good choice for DVD.
In addition to the movie itself, there are a number of features…
The Commentary Tracks are from not only Matheson, but also from co-stars Joe Manganiello and Mr. Kennedy. And there’s a second commentary track from IGN contributors Eric Moro, Chris Moffett, and Chris Carl.
“The Big Guns: Military Action on Film” talked about the goals of trying to be as realistic as possible for the military aspects of the script. They brought in special trainers to give the actors and stunt doubles as much experience with the movements, tools, and so on that add the extra realism for the camera.
“Colombia Norte: On Location in Puerto Rico” introduced us to the beautiful land of Puerto Rico and how some of the cast and crew were connected to Latin America. Each member brings different goals and thoughts to the latin backgrounds of the characters and movie, again adding to the genuine feel of the movie. They were able to take advantage of an abandoned military base there to provide a number of sites for various scenes.
“The Rocket’s Red Glare: Explosions Explained” showed cast and crew talking about the thousands of rounds and and explosives used during the making of the movie. It was interesting to hear the actors talk about the combination of firing blanks and explosives giving them the feel that they were really being shot at. But the best part of the feature was hearing each actor’s favorite explosion of the movie!
“The Art of the Fall: Stunt Secrets” brought you closer to understanding the difficulty of coordinating stunts with gunfire, explosions, and hand to hand combat. The stunt coordinators talk about the many issues with water, jungle, and gunfire and explosion. The actual fights were taught more like dance moves than combat training, but many of the trainers also train people in self defense. The best line — “No actual necks were broken in the making of this film” — from Matheson.
“Comedy in Colombia: Bloopers & Other Relief” provided the requisite number of jokers and miscues. These guys seemed to have a great time among the people and animals of Puerto Rico. It’s a short reel, but it has a few fun bits.
“Stars with Stripes: Casting Joe & Mr. Kennedy” shares Joe Manganiello and Mr. Kennedy chatting about how they enjoyed their roles. Joe actually was able to chat with an Ex-SEAL and gained some insights. I think Mr. Kennedy had some of the best lines in the movie, but he really had a good time kicking butt in the jungle. You even get to hear from Mr. Kennedy’s Mom and see some of his early acting work from the 7th grade. Joe is evidently a big wrestling fan and had a great time visiting some of the other WWE members while having a great time working with Mr. Kennedy.
Trailers for Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead and The Betrayed were included on the DVD. Though I doubt I’ll see Joy Ride 2, The Betrayed looks interesting starring Melissa George who has to choose between killing her husband and her son when she finds that her husband is an assassin.
Ultimately, I found Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia to be an entertaining film. I doubt it will win any awards, but I found it an engaging and fun action film. Definitely a good renter! A solid 2 1/2 out of 4 for me.
p.s. Pick this up at Amazon: