From the very first scene you know that this film is going to showcase Owen Wilson being Owen Wilson. I happen to enjoy his mixture of arrogant playboy with being insecure and endearing, and ever-flippant. He mastered this in film successes like Shanghai Knights, Shanghai Noon (both with Jackie Chan), and I Spy (with Eddie Murphy).
As to whether this is "based on a true story," it is true that the real U.S. F-16 pilot (Scott O'Grady) who was shot down in Bosnia in 1995, sued 20th Century Fox in 2002 for "invasion of privacy." The irony to that is that his chief complaints were that they got the story wrong and portrayed him in ways that were unlike him. Owen Wilson (named Chris Burnett in BEL) cussed throughout the film and makes a blatantly stupid decision upon being shot down. O'Grady maintains that he did not act that way.
Aside from that reputation-protection, this film is one more great Owen Wilson flic, that will not only keep you smirking, but this one will make you feel like your finger is in a wall socket until the end.
Why not a 5 star? Hollywood needs to learn that we viewers roll our eyes whenever they show us Mr. Hero getting shot at by a gazillion bad guys, and not one bullet hits our main man. (To see a satirical look at the absurdity of this, see Arnold in The Last Action Hero.) BEL even has tanks shooting at our evasive star scampering away on foot. Come on, a scratch on the cheek doesn't make those scenes realistic. And the scene where he decides to go ahead and trip every booby-trap wire to ruin the day of his obviously-going-to-be-killed followers, was ridiculous.
Yes, the worst was the final scene. Enemy tanks, rocket-launchers, machine guns all ablaze at goin'-Owen, and not one frickin' bullet hits him. Ok, even if I can accept that, why did not one bullet hit the three Marine helicopters who just kept dusting the enemy chumps who were shooting away? And his leap off the cliff (with one arm having just been shot) to grab the foot of some dangling Marine on a rope was a bit too much to believe. And I couldn't swallow how Gene Hackman relaxed upon the "success" of now having their man "safe." Off they fly into the sunset, with our invinsible hero, holding on for his not-bored-anymore life. Oh well, enjoy.
I agree with the reviewer who noted the poor character development of anyone but Owen Wilson. Even Gene Hackman comes off quite wooden. The internal military conflict comes through that guy who played the latin-lover spy in Clear And Present Danger. In this flic, I felt like flicking him off the screen, he was so blah and annoying. And who the heck was he, anyway?
Hey, you'll get to see Owen Wilson's nose without enough make-up to cover the deformity from his previous breaks.
Somehow, I can't forget the image from Shanghai Noon where he is dreaming of having his ear nibbled by a sexy saloon babe, only to wake up to the reality of being buried up to his neck in desert sand and a vulture is doing the nibbling. Behind Enemy Lines gives him a similar wake-up call.