ChildCare Action Project (CAP): Christian Analysis of American Culture


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth though you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Behind Enemy Lines (2001), R
Analysis Date: December 1, 2001
CAP Score: 45
CAP Influence Density: 1.35

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is purely objective and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

BEHIND ENEMY LINES (R) -- ...warriors see things no man should ever see.

Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Director(s): John Moore
Producer(s): John Davis
Written by/Screenplay: Zak Penn, David Veloz
Cinematography/Camera: Brendan Galvin
Music: Don Davis

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With each movie about warfare I am inundated with emails asking why the murder/Suicide score is so high when many of our boys are murdered on the battlefield. Hopefully, I can address such concerns here. Deaths by lawful police action and war are not incorporated into the Murder/Suicide scoring but are incorporated into the Wanton Violence/Crime scoring.

Bored with routine aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, Lt. Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson) longs for some action. He joined the service to fight. Burnett gets the action he wanted. On a recon flight, navigator Burnett convinces pilot Lt. Jeremy Stackhouse to take a little jaunt into the no-fly zone over Bosnia. Burnett had noticed on his scope some activity that wasn't supposed to be there. Though in direct violation of treaty, Stackhouse agrees to investigate. Lo and behold, they discover some clandestine activity. The Serbs, under command of Lokar (Olek Krupa) were burying bodies and Burnett got some digital pictures of it.

Lokar commanded that the plane be shot down. After some dazzling flight acrobatics, a missile hit its mark, downing the American plane with two crewmen. Though the ejection seats and parachutes worked properly, Stackhouse was injured beyond mobility with what appeared to be a broken femur. Apparently the injury was caused by a mid-air collision between the two ejected seats. So Burnett left Stackhouse him for some higher ground in order to be able to reach the Vinson with his hand-held radio. From the side of a neighboring mountain range, Burnett watched as the Serbs located and approached Stackhouse. What happened then left Burnett on his own.

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Admiral Reigart (Gene Hackman) commanding the Vinson is not about to leave one of his junior officers to the Serbs. Reigart readies a rescue mission but it was blocked by NATO Admiral Piquet (Joaquim de Almedia). Reigart had two Admiral stars, Piquet had three. And Piquet was NATO. Reigart was only American. Piquet was worried a penetration by US forces into the sensitive Bosnia would topple the fragile peace efforts underway -- thousands could die if the peace efforts disintegrated, only one additional serviceman would be lost by abandoning the rescue efforts. An acceptable loss.

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Others apparently agree with me that Behind Enemy Lines could have well be called the "Owen Wilson Show" since most of the screen time was on Wilson and his trek through the hostile Serbs. Spotty moments were given to Hackman and others to lend connectivity and character/plot building, but it is clear most of the center attention was on Wilson. Wilson did lend a "regular guy" flair to the show and high-wattage Hackman brought a level of hard-nosed integrity as a military master with a soft heart, at least a tiny bit of it.
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There is much action in this modern warfare movie. There were some military (or monstrous) behaviors portrayed not addressed in "the manual." Though these types of aggression may be real in the real world, they are still vile [Ps. 101:3]. In war, as many of you can aver with eye-witness credibility, warriors see things no man should ever see, so why should such atrocities be paraded as entertainment? Especially with eight and 10 year old kids in the audience. What purpose could such serve except to further embitter already tenuous coping skills? Are we so wise to say "My son needs to see this kind of stuff, just in case?" If such "stuff" as this (and Saving Private Ryan) brings hardened warriors to tears, what do you think it does to a child who doesn't even know yet how to spell experiential maturity? [Luke 17:2] Do you think that "Aw-right!" is an indication of coping skills when the scene is of a bullet dragging the contents of a human skull out with it? [Prov. 3:31] If programming such as in Behind Enemy Lines and Saving Private Ryan is good for preparing our youth for war, why is it not an integral part of public school curricula?

Behind Enemy Lines is a somewhat intelligent and clever movie. And it is a very violent movie. It has much vulgar and vile language [Col. 3:8]. Wilson's favorite expression seems to be one with God's name in vain. Is a "reality" war movie justification for teaching and/or causing by example our youth (or ourselves) to sin in that way ... and others? Is it justification for the actors to sin by using God's name in vain? [Deut. 5:11] The two strongest presences/influences in this movie were violence and foul language. There was NO sexual programming whatsoever noted. Not even adults in underwear or sexual innuendo, comments or joking.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Ps. 101:3 I will set [shiyth {sheeth}: to put, set, lay (hand upon), station, appoint, fix, set mind to] before my eyes no vile [beliya`al {bel-e-yah'-al}; wicked, ungodly, evil, naughty] thing.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Prov. 3:31 Do not envy a violent man or choose any of his ways,
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain [vain: shav' {shawv}; false, emptiness, nothingness, lying, worthlessness (of conduct)]: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Which includes "Oh, my .....!]

    *******Food for Thought*******
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.

    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    FINDINGS / SCORING: Behind Enemy Lines (2001) CAP Thermometers

    NOTE: Multiple occurrences of each item described below may be likely, definitely when plural.

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
  • offensive ordnance
  • air warfare terror
  • bloody injury
  • brutal killing, execution style with a replay of it
  • much gunfire to kill
  • many bodies
  • disembodied heads
  • imagery of military execution of civilians
  • battle warfare with many deaths, repeatedly
  • battle gore
  • shooting a dead man in the face repeatedly to prevent identification
  • graphic fight to the death with gunfire to kill and impalement

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
  • 32 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • one use of the most foul of the foul words.
  • vulgar gesture
  • defiance of direct orders, risking life and mission
  • reckless gunfire
  • brutalization of pilot's injury
  • order to abandon serviceman to prevent risking peace effort
  • battle brutality and coldness

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
  • none noted

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • smoking, repeatedly

    Offense to God (O)(2):
  • ten uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and 2 without

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted (Remember, battle deaths are incorporated into the Wanton Violence/Crime investigation area.)

    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our five-year study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Portrayal of attempts to commit murder or suicide and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

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