World War II drama Enemy Lines is the English-language debut from Swedish director Anders Banke who learned his filmmaking trade in Moscow. Set against the glacial backdrop of Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943, the plot follows US soldier Major Kaminski (Ed Westwick) as he embarks on a dangerous assignment. Under the command of Colonel Preston (John Hannah), a plan is hatched for a commando squad to infiltrate enemy lines to free rocket scientist Dr. Fabien (Pawel Delag) from the control of the German army.
No time is wasted before we are thrust into military action as the opening sequence puts us right into the mission at the core of the story. This allows Banke an opportunity to show off his filmmaking flair, illustrating what he can do on what appears to be a pretty low-budget. The tense scene sees ally troops zone in on their target against a pulsing score, but unfortunately the suspense is cut short when we are taken back two weeks to begin the narrative again. As the dialogue kicks in and the characters converse about the strategy we’ve already witnessed, the cracks begin to show as the humdrum script comes straight out of the genre handbook.
In the leading role, Westwick is akin to Brad Pitt’s grizzled tank commander from David Ayer’s Fury, but maybe it’s just because of his razor-sharp undercut. In fairness, he brings a movie star aura to the piece despite working with a glibly written character. The strongest from the supporting cast is Tom Wisdom who plays British soldier Davidson. His slight arc may be rather formulaic, but it provides some passion and emotion to what otherwise can be quite a dour, cold-blooded affair.
Enemy Lines can be rather clumsy as it trudges through the minefield of war film clichés, but Banke’s astute direction cashes in on the breath-taking snowscape locations it unfolds upon, and he plays to his strengths in constructing energetic action sequences.