Behind Enemy Lines (1997)

Behind Enemy Lines (1997)- *

Directed by: Mark Griffiths

Starring: Thomas Ian Griffith, Chris Mulkey, Hillary Matthews, and Mon Confiado

Mike Weston (TIG) is an ex-Marine who just wants to forget the hard times and live it up on his boat in Tahiti with his buddies. Unfortunately, when he discovers that his former partner from his mercenary days, Jones (Mulkey) is being held captive in prison so he can be used as a bargaining chip so a sadistic general can obtain some nuclear triggers, Mike Weston suddenly begins to believe in the awesome power of Mike Weston again. Rousing his washout friends from their sloth, they all undertake the mission of a lifetime: to save their friend and stop the triggers from falling into the wrong hands. Also Weston’s sister Kat (Matthews) and taxi driver Phred (Confiado) are along for the ride. What will happen…BEHIND ENEMY LINES?

Behind Enemy Lines - not to be confused with the 2001 movie with Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman (or the 1987 Cirio Santiago film of the same name) - starts out seeming ALMOST mainstream, but then it quickly slides into a quicksand of repetitive stupidity it can’t pull itself out from. If you’ve ever seen Missing in Action (1984) or P.O.W. The Escape (1986) - interestingly also known as Behind Enemy Lines - this is pretty much more of the same, except it came out in 1997, when things were souring in the DTV world.

Thomas Ian Griffith (who we affectionately call TIG) looks a LOT like Ben Affleck in this movie. I mean, a LOT. It was the 90’s after all, and the ‘fleck was on the rise. The fact that it was the 90’s might also explain why there’s a character named Phred. P-H-R-E-D. He even has a large sign on his taxi proudly proclaiming PHRED is coming. All that being said, The movie is slow and unoriginal, with nary a surprise in sight. The dialogue is so overpoweringly dumb, it feels like it was created by - and aimed for - small children. This is an uneasy mix with shooting and blow-ups in the jungle, not to mention the time-honored Prerequisite Torture. So you can have all the guard tower falls you want, but if the spoken dialogue is basically “nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah”, the audience feels insulted and cheated.

Another reason the audience doesn’t get hooked in, and thus interested in the plight of the characters, is that there is seemingly a lot of dead time with characters jawing about stuff we don’t care about. The main baddie should have been clearly defined and ever-present, and the whole outing streamlined with less blah-blah and more rockin’ action scenes. We’re not even going to ASK for character development. We realize that might be a bridge too far.

Naturally, it all ends with yet another final warehouse fight, and then disappears off the screen like the smoke from a blown-out birthday candle. And it leaves just as much of an impact on your eyeballs. Sadly, Behind Enemy Lines is just another movie on a screen. It probably sat and collected dust on video store shelves everywhere back in the 90’s. It adds nothing new to the table except annoyance. We really didn’t like it.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out write-ups from our buddies, The Unknown Movies and The Video Vacuum!


Fair Game (1995)

Fair Game (1995)- * * *

Directed by: Andrew Sipes

Starring: William Baldwin, Cindy Crawford, Salma Hayek, Jenette Goldstein, Christopher McDonald, Miguel Sandoval, and Steven Berkoff

When KGB assassins target the life of Attorney Kate McQuean (Crawford) because of her associations with a mysterious boat, only one man can come to her rescue: Marion “Cobra” Cobretti -- er...Max Kirkpatrick (Baldwin)! According to the movie’s tagline, he’s a Cop on the Edge - or COTE, as we call them. With the baddies using all kinds of high tech (for 1995) gizmos to track their whereabouts, Max and Kate will always have to stay one step ahead of the highly-mobile evildoers. If that means a few car chases, stunts, shooting and...romance...then so be it. With nowhere to run and no one to trust, will our heroes be FAIR GAME for the bad guys?

Hey, if we wanted to see movies that are Cobra (1986) without being Cobra, we’d probably just watch Black Cobra (1987), starring Fred Williamson. Because it’s based on the same Paula Gosling novel that spawned one of our all-time favorite movies, Fair Game seemed very familiar to us. But instead of Stallone cutting pizza with scissors and Brigitte Nielsen posing with robots, we have one of the Baldwins and Cindy Crawford. Why does Hollywood always do this? What, Cobra wasn’t good enough for them? They thought that they could improve upon perfection by haughtily going back to the original title, getting a big budget and a glossy look and no one would notice? Now, while this may be a needless run-through of Cobra, it’s not without some charm of its own, but we felt we should get that out there as our opening salvo.

As we’ve said before, there are many kinds of dumb when it comes to movies - dumb is not one size fits all. Thankfully, despite (or maybe because of) its retread status, Fair Game is very dumb; sort of a cross between “Hollywood Dumb” and “90’s Dumb”. The key question is: is it entertaining? And the answer is yes. The cliches are so broad and the plot so paint-by-numbers, I’m surprised the script wasn’t written with a paintbrush and printed on an easel. It doesn’t seem like there was ever an attempt to make it any other way. The dialogue may be groan-inducing, but the action scenes are solid and well-executed, if a bit on the silly side (Baldwin flying sideways while shooting).

Maybe out of a guilty conscience, the movie can’t seem to let go of its Stallone connections - at one point, someone calls Baldwin “Sly”, even though his name is Max. Baldwin smokes cigars, clearly a reference to the fact that Marion Cobretti said smoking is bad for your health. In Cobra, Brigitte Nielsen was a model, so naturally that led to the casting of Cindy Crawford as her replacement. And this may be a stretch, but the whole 90’s Dumb/Hollywood Dumb connection comes through clear as day when you look at the similarities between this and Stallone’s The Specialist (1994). The natural humor of Cobra is replaced with “humor set-pieces”...but is that what kept this flying off video store shelves in the 90’s?

As for Cindy Crawford, hey, she gave it a try. If you’re looking for us to criticize a non-actor for having a flat affect when speaking, you won’t find that here. Lord knows we’re used to seeing that around these parts. 

The fact that she’s a lawyer in the movie is a bit of a leap; perhaps she could have been a model working at night for her law degree, or maybe a paralegal. But Crawford as a full-on lawyer was a bit much...yes, there is some light Crawford nudity, but is it really her? With all the 90’s tech on display, it’s easy to get distracted. The baddies know where to find her because they hack into her pizza account. HER PIZZA ACCOUNT. Well, if there’s any takeaway from this movie it’s this: don’t have an online account with any local pizza joint. Instructive.

Fair Game is 90’s Hollywood action in a nutshell: dumb, stupid, and actually very entertaining. Fascinatingly, this is director Andrew Sipes’s only directorial effort to date. Maybe he got depressed because he tried to out-Cobra Cobra, didn’t do it, then gave up entirely. It may have been Fair Game for the critics, but who cares? This site is all about the fans, and if you see it on cable or find it cheap on DVD, check it out. You could do a LOT worse.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Video Vacuum!