Collection of Mixed Action
Lonnie E. Holder | Columbus, Indiana, United States | 01/08/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This collection of movies combines one I thought was unnecessary with one that has good, though unbelievable, action. Unless you know you will like both movies or you find the combined price to be unavoidably attractive, I would buy only what you actually want to have in your collection.
The first movie, "Flight of the Phoenix," is a mediocre remake of the James Stewart classic. If you rate this movie as an adventure film, it is purely run-of-the-mill. The characters are, as these movies go, shallow with motivations that are paper thin. The characters behave with the usual stupidity of such characters. For example, when you are in the desert, why would you go running up to a group of men (there appeared to be no women) dressed in dark clothing? The lack of women and the isolation of the men should have been clues to the survivors of a plane crash that they should observe the men for a while before running up to them.
This movie is a nearly identical copy of the original, with a few minor exceptions. A group of men are on their way to a desert outpost when their plane crashes. The men, oops, one of the minor differences with the original is that this movie includes a woman on the flight, decide that they can rebuild the plane and escape the desert. Another difference in this movie from the original is the addition of a group of sinister nomads with guns. The movie never explains the sinister nomads, and why the sinister nomads would go chasing after a plane as it begins to take off (the plane is leaving, the men are mobile and on horseback; once the plane is gone there is virtually no threat to the sinister men without motive).
Two areas of excellence for this movie are the action and the special effects. However, both are required to make up for the lack of believable plot. As long as the audience is not thinking about the movie they will have insufficient time to analyze what is happening and the implausibility of some of the activity.
In the original 1965 version of the movie the focus of the movie was the battle of the men against the desert and against themselves, ultimately triumphing over the desert and learning to work as a team. This movie still has the desert, but the skillful development of characters is thrown out the window in favor of special visual effects and pointless action. If you prefer video games to plot, then you might like this movie. If you want to see a movie with intelligence and character development, watch the original.
The second movie is "Behind Enemy Lines." This movie is also somewhat unbelievable, but it was sufficiently original and full of action that I enjoyed it.
I was concerned that either the continued backlash from Viet Nam or an over-the-top unbelievable plot would be important influences in this movie. I was pleased that the movie combined a bit of political intrigue with generally realistic military action to yield a very enjoyable movie. There are a few moments where the movie is unbelievable, but those moments are few enough to get you to the end.
Lt. Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) and his friend and partner Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht) are flying a routine mission over Bosnia. They fly into territory into which they are not permitted. During their flight they see something on the ground that causes them to take a closer look. Using their new digital image recording system they take high-speed pictures of an area that incriminates Serbians in aggression towards Bosnians. The Serbians shoot down the F-18 with SAMs, later blaming the incident on rebel Bosnians.
Once the plane is shot down, Serbian forces find the two vulnerable pilots. The Serbians quickly execute Stackhouse, causing Burnett to yell in anguish and anger, which of course was a serious mistake because Stackhouse's executioner hears Burnett, and the chase is on.
This movie is all about the chase. Burnett runs for his life, trying to reach an extraction point. The Serbian executioner that murdered Stackhouse chases Burnett almost to the end of the film. A number of the chase elements were very creative, though incredible in their coincidence. One example is when Burnett has a large group of Serbians on his heels. Personnel from Burnett's aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, are watching the chase. When Burnett trips and falls according to the infrared image, the anxious crew of the Carl Vinson are sure he is dead, yet the chasing Serbians miraculously do not find him. You'll have to watch the movie to see why.
Burnett continually tries to make his way to the rendezvous point for extraction, and is continuously stymied. Eventually the Serbians convince NATO that rebels have killed Burnett and the Carl Vinson prepares to head for home. But, as we all know, Burnett is still trying to get out. I'll not spoil the ending, which is the one portion of the movie that is really over-the-top, more reminiscent of James Bond than the military.
While the movie contains flaws in how the action is portrayed, for entertainment and patriotism it is a good bet, particularly if you enjoy military action movies.