BEHIND ENEMY LINES: On a reconnaissance flight over eastern Europe, disillusioned naval pilot Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) and his partner, Stackhouse (Gabriel Macht), photograph a scene they were not meant to see. When their plane is shot down and Stackhouse is quickly captured and executed, Burnett must struggle to survive in unfamiliar hostile territory with a cold-blooded assassin and hundreds of enemy troops on his heels. Meanwhile, on an American battleship in the Adriatic Sea, Burnett's commanding officer, Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman), attempts to negotiate his soldier's return amidst tense political and military maneuvers. Soon Burnett discovers exactly why he's being hunted, making his situation--and Reigert's actions--even more perilous.
Benefiting from Wilson's straightforward performance and Hackman's typically engaging presence, BEHIND ENEMY LINES proves itself with a solid story (loosely based on real-life events) and excellent action sequences. Shot in a cold, icy light, John Moore's film features a nail-biting aerial chase, a tense race across a grenade-filled wasteland, and a stunningly explosive final battle. Wilson, typically cast in quirky comedic roles, is an unlikely action hero who turns out to be the movie's secret weapon. By avoiding excessive macho posturing, BEHIND ENEMY LINES is smarter, more exciting, and better looking than most Hollywood military thrillers.
ANTWONE FISHER: The true story of ANTWONE FISHER tracks a remarkable young man on the path to recovery from physical and sexual abuse. Antwone Fisher (Derek Luke) is a young Navy sailor who is on verge of getting booted from the military because of his volatile temper when he is ordered to mandatory sessions with psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington). After a few strained sessions, Fisher navigates through difficult memories of his Cleveland childhood, mostly of life with a vicious foster mother (Novella Nelson) who beats him on a regular basis (and refers to him not by name, but by the n-word) and a foster sister who violates him sexually. Fisher and Davenport form a father-son bond (Fisher even adopts the doctor's wife [Salli Richardson] as a kind of surrogate Mom). And eventually he finds the strength to work through his anger and the courage to forge his first romantic relationship with Cheryl (Joy Bryant).
Writer Antwone Fisher, making his screenplay debut, achieves an encouraging view of human nature with this story, and first-time director Washington molds it into a film that ranks with GOOD WILL HUNTING and ORDINARY PEOPLE. Washington demonstrates his ease with actors by drumming up rich emotional intimacy, not without naturally humorous and awkward moments. Vivid, painterly images and the yearning melodies of composer Mychael Danna complete the artistry of the film.
TIGERLAND: Set in 1971, when America was a nation divided over the escalating violence and bloodshed of the Vietnam War, TIGERLAND begins when thousands of young soldiers had already lost their lives to the war, and thousands more were preparing to enter combat. In Fort Polk, Louisiana, a group of young soldiers-in-training has conflicting opinions about the war. Jim Paxton (Matthew Davis) is an idealistic romantic who sees Vietnam as potential inspiration for future novels and romantic war stories. Roland Bozz (Colin Farrell) is a rebellious antihero who decides that he wants no part of the army or the war and begins to disobey orders, trying to get expelled from the infantry. Paxton and Bozz become leaders to a small group of young draftees, and Bozz inspires them to question authority. As they enter Tigerland--a training process in which the soldiers simulate combat in the Louisiana wilderness--the men begin to realize just how far they will go to stay out of the war. This gritty, documentary-like vision of the war is engaging and incredibly moving, employing natural lighting, handheld cameras, and realistic dialogue to encapsulate the deeply internalized psychological journeys of the characters. Irishman Farrell gives a breakout performance as Bozz, replete with intense charisma and brooding outlaw heroism.