Thursday, 3 April 2014

Behind Enemy Lines 2


Directed by: James Dodson
Screenplay: James Dodson
Starring: Nicholas Gonzalez, Matt Bushall, Keith David, Bruce McGill, Ben Cross & Peter Coyote

Direct-to-DVDs sequels to films that hit big are practically their own genre these days and often, taken on their lower budget terms, usually decent entertainment. Especially in the action arena with Universal Solider notching up three sequels (part 2 a bit ropey, 3 & 4 absolutely stellar), Death Race two sequels (2 a bit naff, 3 much better), The Marine two sequels (both decent) and the likes of Undisputed and Never Back Down receiving sequels that are far better than the original franchise starters (if you haven’t already, check out Undisputed 2 & 3 for how action sequels should be done!). However, it’s not always good to continue an action franchise (the less said about The Art of War sequels the better!) and Behind Enemy Lines 2 is unfortunately one of the worst of the bunch: an over edited, headache inducing mess.

The original, considerably bigger budget, Behind Enemy Lines (which starred Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman) was some glossy action fluff that was turbo charged thanks to John Moore’s kinetic direction. Sure he used a little too much rapid editing, slow-mo and all kinds of wizzy tricks to jazz up the action but always knew when to hold back and just let the action flow. The same can’t be said about its first sequel which is often like one giant 90 minute music video and quite possibly why the term “Avid fart” was coined.  No editing trick is missed from all the mentioned above to ridiculous amounts of dissolves, overlays, freeze frames, colour changes and pretty much any other transition or effect you can think of that comes with a modern digital editing suite: meaning there is rarely a frame that goes by without some kind of editing trick assaulting your eyeballs. If you think Steven Seagal’s oeuvre of late has been the ultimate perpetrator of the dreaded “Avid fart” I would say that crown now goes to Behind Enemy Lines 2.

There is a decent story here for a military action vehicle as a squad of Navy seals get stuck behind enemy lines while attempting to blow up a missile base in North Korea. However, between the constant editing nonsense, excessive shaky cam in the action scenes and some heavy handed political mumbo-jumbo (as the likes of Peter Coyote and Bruce McGill argue over the best course of action to take when the mission goes south!) means any potential thrills or tension are all but diluted in a barrage of MTV style edits. Shame really, as on the rare occasion when everything does calm down and plays out in a smooth and coherent fashion there is a decent film to be found. The cast are pretty good and the end raid on the missile base is actually quite tense and thrilling before the dreaded retina blazing editing kicks in again.

The second sequel, Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia, was a more successful sequel. It again tells the story of a bunch of military dudes fighting for their lives while stuck in enemy territory albeit this time in a much more straightforward and easy to watch fashion with regular bursts of decent action. Seriously, that’s all us action fans want. 

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