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Behind Enemy Lines (2001)
Shot down in flames
The premise of the movie is interesting enough. An American navigator, Burnett, is shot down "Behind Enemy Lines" in Bosnia. Because of political considerations, he cannot be easily extracted, and has to make his way home on his own.
The movie starts slowly, with some pretty standard character building, painting Burnett as a likeable, wise-cracking but somewhat unruly Navy navigator. We then get a little bit of very far fetched action as the navigator's F-15 tries to dodge incoming missiles (by the way Hollywood, SAM missiles do not do 180 turns - that's strictly for cartoon time) and then perhaps the most interesting 20 minutes of the film just after the aircraft is shot down. You actually feel tense as the bad guys approach Burnett's hiding prone figure.
However, after that it just gets plain silly. Burnett dances his way through mine-fields, dodges sniper bullets, and climbs to the top of mountains and back while most of the Serbian army tries to eliminate him. What might have been a tense psychological combat between Burnett and his assailants is thwarted by caricatures of brutish and stupid bad guys stumbling over themselves, followed closely by America's inept NATO allies.
And as for the ending... puhleeze!! The Admiral himself leading the rescue mission? Helicopters flying in formation into the setting sun? Whose idiot idea was that?
Crna macka, beli macor (1998)
A mesmerising, highly imaginative film - a masterpiece
This is an extremely quirky film, riddled with crazy caricatures of East European mafiosi and small time crooks. It sports some of the most imaginative characters I have ever seen on a screen (a woman who pulls nails with her buttocks?) and some of the most bizarre scenes.And yet the film is beautifully balanced, never falling into outright lunacy or losing the plot.
The scenes are at times almost nostalgic, a throwback to some simpler time when you could just have fun, no holds barred. And that is exactly what this film does for me - I have not had as much fun in ages. You will leave the theater with a feel-good factor 10 and thank out loud the people who created this gem.
Kusturica is a phenomenon.
The Rock (1996)
What a waste of acting talent
This film is a mixture of toxic weapons disaster movie, a mutineering soldiers fighting for a noble cause movie, a conspiracy theory movie, a hostage movie and a James Bond taking on the bad guys movie. It looks as if the writers just jiggled it all up, mixed in as many catchy one-liners they could think of, and called in the SFX people for some pyrotechnics and car-chases.
The result is a bumbling film that jerks along with no real focus. The script is contrived to the point of absurdity. Perhaps my suspension of disbelief is not as strong as it could be - but the film lacked the "style" and continuity that makes this possible.
Some of the action scenes are good (particularly the shower-room face-off), and Sean Connery does his best with the lines he is given. Nicolas Cage (who I greatly admire) is mis-cast and fails to make much of the awful one-liner "funny" replies he is meant to deliver. Ed Harris is solid but sometimes wooden in his portrayal of an Army General, but then again maybe Army Generals are a supposed to be a little stiff.
In summary I was very disappointed with what could have been a decent film, had the writers penned a tighter script with less pandering the mass-market. Too many cheap jokes, pathetic plot twists and no real tension.