Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia (2009)

Tim Matheson

Joe Manganiello - Lt. Sean Macklin
Ken Anderson [Mr. Kennedy] - MCPO Carter Holt
Channon Roe - CPO Kevin Derricks
Yancey Arias - Alvaro Cardona
Keith David - Commander Scott Boytano
Jennice Fuentes - Nicole Jenkins
Steven Bauer - General Manuel Valez
Tim Matheson - Carl Dobbs

Genre - Action/War

Running Time - 95 Minutes

Score - 2 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - The third installment [why?] in the BEHIND ENEMY LINES franchise, BEL: COLUMBIA is about a group of Navy SEALs staying in Columbia to investigate some shady business. Even though there's some sort of attempt of peace between FARC insurgents and Columbian military officials, that ends when Alvaro Cardona (Yancey Arias) loses his wife and child in a massive bomb attack. Cardona wants revenge on everyone involved in the peace summit, blaming them for losing his family. Commander Scott Boytano (Keith David) sends Lt. Sean Macklin (Joe Manganiello) and Chief Carter Holt (MMMMIIIIIISSSSSTTTTAAAAHHHH KENNEDY)...(KENNEDY) to find a way to not only save their captured comrade (Channon Roe) and get the hell out of Columbia, but to also clear the names of those at the peace summit of any wrongdoing. Things get turned around when the Columbian government claim that the SEALs are responsible for the attack, with the CIA backing them to keep things diplomatic. Sigh...gotta love the government.


STORY - I've seen the original BEHIND ENEMY LINES with Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman years ago and that was alright. Never saw the sequel, AXIS OF EVIL, and really don't plan on it. I honestly just watched COLUMBIA for WWE Superstar Mr. Kennedy, curious about his first acting role in a major feature. The plot of the film is actually interesting and I wanted to know what would happen. I mean, it has some government treachery, political dissention, and war action. Can't be bad, right?


Ugh, I don't know what happened here. While the idea was cool, the execution was majorly poor. While there was some nice character development and decent logic in the proceedings, I almost fell asleep watching this film. Instead of explaining things for those who may not know about the FARC or Columbian life, it just tells you and leaves it at that. That's nice but why would I care if I don't know anything about this stuff? BEL:C shows how RAMBO was a much better film, since it actually explained the backdrop and why it was integral for the entire movie. We don't get that here and I blame lousy screenwriting and research on that.

And even with the decent character development, I still didn't really care about any of these people. The villain, Cordona, is still that stereotypical guy who lost his family and feels he needs to act like a terrorist in order to make sure that misery loves company. Yeah, that'll help your situation, dickwad. Even our heroes don't have much depth. They're all macho. They all can shoot guns and kick ass. But other than that, there's no way of connecting with them. You could replace them with different actors and you would still get the same result. Pretty bland stuff here that you've seen in other films like this - and done better in those films too.

DIRECTION - Tim Matheson, who is a fine actor, doesn't leave much of an impression as a director. For an action flick, BEL:C feels really dead. Sure there are explosions and gunfire, but aren't those things supposed to send your adrenaline pumping while you watch them? And the cinematography just looked bland and generic. I was actually bored with the visuals. It wasn't a terrible directing job but there was no energy behind the project to make you care about the film. Everything felt like an afterthought and I just felt "blah" to everything. And when the material isn't all that strong to begin with, it just makes the director guilty for not compensating in order to bring a more interesting film in the forefront. I won't say no to another Matheson directed flick, but this didn't do him any favors.

VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - For a R rated flick, it felt more PG-13. Sex and language were tame. We do get tons of violence though and people dying here and there [it is a war flick after all]. But it just felt "ho-hum" for me. The faint of heart can watch this without problems.

ACTING - The acting, actually, wasn't so bad. Joe Manganiello, who's probably known for being in SPIDER-MAN and on One Tree Hill, isn't too bad as the lead of the film. He doesn't have much of a presence to be quite honest but he handles dialogue well and has the physical attributes to carry the part. Ken Anderson, or Mr. Kennedy to WWE fans, surprised me by not being horrible as Carter Holt. Anderson brings more of the comic relief to the film while showing off his guns in tank tops to please the ladies I guess. Kennedy is a pretty good wrestler on the mic, so I'm not surprised he was good here. I would like to see him do more films. Hey, if Hulk Hogan can make tons of films, so can Mr. Kennedy. Yancey Arias, Steven Bauer, and Keith David all do decent work as well, although their roles are short compared to Manganiello and Anderson. But if I had to pick the strongest aspect of this movie, it would be the thespian work of those involved.

MUSIC - Your standard military action score. Not much to discuss here.

If you haven't seen BEHIND ENEMY LINES or aren't into war films, you probably shouldn't bother with this. I say only fans of Mr. Kennedy should rent it and check it out. Just don't expect excitement or a story to really bite your teeth into. BEHIND ENEMY LINES: COLUMBIA is as generic as they come, waiting in the wings to job to Triple H at the next Wrestlemania. That big evil nose is capable of anything-uh...

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