"BEHIND ENEMY LINES: COLOMBIA"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5 stars)
Joe Manganiello as SEAN MACKLIN
Mr. Kennedy as CARTER HOLT
Channon Roe as KEVIN DERRICKS
Yancey Arias as ALVARO CARDONA
Chris J. Johnson as STEVE GAINES
Antony Matos as GREG ARMSTRONG
Studio: WWE Films
Directed by: Tim Matheson
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As a critic, I feel it necessary to not just judge a film by its face value of quality, but to also judge it based on the type of movie it is. After all, can you really judge a direct-to-DVD action flick with the same yardstick used on something like “The Dark Knight”?
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While I’ve never seen the original “Behind Enemy Lines” with Owen Wilson, I have seen both of its sequels, which were spawned in the direct-to-DVD market. I imagine the first film is far superior in style, action and story. However, the ones that hit the DVD market alone carry a lower level of expectation.
“Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia” is the third in what is becoming a reliable fast food franchise on DVD. This one is produced under the WWE Films banner, offering us some new action stars plucked from the professional wrestling circuit. It’s not meant to be the action film to end all action film, and it’s clear that it was made on a smaller budget.
But that’s okay in my book. The direct-to-DVD market is a guilty pleasure of mine, just as the direct-to-cable market was an indulgence for me when I subscribed to premium channels like Showtime and Cinemax.
“Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia” follows a group of Navy SEALS as they are dropped into hostile territory in Colombia. There’s in the hot zone for recon only, but they are engaged in an ambush led by a ruthless military leader out for revenge on those who killed his wife and child. Some team members are killed, and another is captured. When the official support from the U.S. comes to an end, the remaining members use their wits and military skills to mount a rescue and escape.
There’s a whole spectrum of quality you get with these direct-to-DVD action features. On the low end, you have your Steven Seagal brand, featuring terrible stories, awful dialogue and very little real action. Fortunately for the “Behind Enemy Lines” series, this third film offers a decent film in its context.
Putting the WWE stars in the film help. I don’t know if Mr. Kennedy is going to enjoy the mainstream theatrical success that has come to wrestlers like The Rock and even John Cena, to a lesser degree. However, at the very least, we’re presented with characters that could realistically portray real military might. We’re not trying to suspend disbelief to follow a fat, aging former action star struggling to keep his career alive.
Just as many cop shows are a police procedural drama, “Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia” is a military procedural drama. Judging from the behind-the-scenes documentaries on the special features menu, they used quite a bit of research from the military angle and gave us a relatively realistic look and feel to the mission.
“Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia” flows like an episode of “The Unit” without the relatively boring home life of the wives on base. It’s relatively well acted, thanks to some bigger names like Keith David and Tim Matheson, who also serves as the director.
If this film had been released in theaters, it would have been a bit of a bummer, but on DVD for some guilty pleasure, it’s pretty decent.
The DVD comes with two commentary tracks. One features director Tim Matheson and stars Joe Manganiello and Mr. Kennedy. The other features IGN fans, which is always interesting and fosters good relations with the base.
Other features on the bonus menu include six behind-the-scenes featurettes, covering everything from the military research to the stunts and explosions to the bloopers and other lighter elements.