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Fighter navigator Chris Burnett wants out: he was looking for something more than the boring recon missions he's been flying. He finds himself flying the lone Christmas day mission over war-torn Bosnia. But when he talks pilot Stackhouse into flying slightly off-course to check out an interesting target, the two get shot down. Burnett is soon alone, trying to outrun a pursuing army, while commanding officer Reigert finds his rescue operation hamstrung by politics, forcing Burnett to run far out of his way. Written by
Jon Reeves <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The jet scraps are actually two old Soviet MiG 21s that the production bought for $5,000. See more »
When Burnett fell in the mass grave, after Serbian soldiers retreat, the Serbs have memory flashes about the killing of civilians. There is a Croatian badge on one of the Serbian soldiers. (Stock footage from Savior is involved.) See more »
An average action movie that is slightly offensive in its exploitative attitude to a terrible conflict
Lt Chris Burnett is a US Navy navigator working on a NATO mission around Bosnia. Bored with routine in the Navy and fed up flying uneventful missions to survey the peace, Burnett annoys his CO one last time by putting in his notice to quit and return to civilian life. Of course his reward is to be put on a mission on Christmas Day doing routine reconnaissance. An error in the intelligence data leads them over an no-fly zone where they see a convoy of Bosnian soldiers who should not be there and, in the process of recording them, they are attacked and shot down. Separated form Burnett, the pilot is captured and killed, leaving Burnett to evade capture for as long as he can until he can be rescued.
First of all, lets make it clear that this is not the film to come to if you are expecting anything intelligent or worthwhile about the conflict in Bosnia; if that is your aim then I would suggest maybe Saviour as a starting point but certainly not this film. However if you want a standard action movie that happens to use the bleak washed out colours of a war zone to add character as well as using the war to make lots of things go bang then this should do you as long as you can stop your brain from thinking about the morals of using such a conflict to make a flag-waving, simplistic piece of Saturday night entertainment. The plot aspires to being some sort of serious piece about the conflict based around an action movie but it is nothing of the sort. Instead the conflict is very simplified for the purposes of leaving our brains free enough of worry and moral concern for our fellow man to be able to just enjoy things going bang. The plot sees an American soldier evade the bad guys with the aim of defeating them against the odds it doesn't matter who the bad guys are because they are a device rather than real people they could have been black (Black Hawk Down), Muslim (The Siege) or French (SWAT) but here they happen to be Bosnian. We don't need to worry too much about this because the film doesn't really do anything with them other than use them as the baddies to the blonde and clean cut Burnett's goodie.
I'm sure I'll get bashed as anti-American for saying things like that but that is not my intention and I'd like to think I'm just being objective; lets be honest, this is just an action movie and shouldn't be looked on as anything more. However even judged on the standards of action movies this is only an average affair, with a plot that destroys its own tension by making Burnett increasingly bullet-proof as the film goes on, leading to a climax that reminded me of the laughable ending to Rambo 3. It does have tension early on but it has blown it by the ending, and the simplistic approach to a real war is hardly helpful. The direction tries to cover the gaps by using advertising gimmicks of jump cuts and freeze frames they aren't a replacement for content but at least they make the film a bit more interesting. Ignoring the morals of it, the use of the frozen war zone does create atmosphere really easily and it was used well.
With Hackman too old to be repeating his Bat-21 role, Wilson steps up and, aside from his usual comic stuff at the start, plays it pretty straight and has clearly aimed to be nothing more than an all-American kid just doing his duty. He aims for this and this is all he does which, in an action movie, is fine however I kept thinking of Denis Quaid and thought how much braver he was in his choices. Hackman must have done about 2 or 3 weeks work on this film given 95% of his scenes are in one main location; he is OK but really just phones this in. The support cast is interesting in regards the Americans (people like Keith and 24's Almeida) but no effort is made on the side of the 'enemy' who are simply goons and baddies from the get go. Again it all works fine in a dumb action movie but the real setting in such a terrible conflict made me hope for more than just action fodder.
Overall this is an average action movie with a bullet-proof hero taking on baddies who look different (black, Eastern European, Muslim, whatever) to bring good to the world of evil. On this level it is nothing special although it has some nice touches of style along the way but gets silly as it comes to the end. However morally it had a responsibility to really use this stage to do more with the conflict than just use it as a backdrop. Sadly it just paints everyone as the baddies and only looks for the emotion of cheering 'our guys' on rather than feeling anything for the real people or real country. Saviour may be bleak and depressing as a film but my god it is easier to stomach at times than this was. If you want things going bang then it should do you but you'd best try to switch off your brain, morals and heart before you start watching it.
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