By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated November 28, 2001 04:46 PM

While PEOPLE critic Leah Rozen considers Owen Wilson (“Shanghai Noon”) “a possible heir to Jack Nicholson” in his new movie, the war drama “Behind Enemy Lines,” Wilson’s costar, Gene Hackman, says the film’s release coincides with the emergence of a new American perspective on the military. (Of his performance, Rozen writes: “Hackman brings an appropriately rueful weariness to his role” as a naval commander who battles NATO officials reluctant to grant him permission to rescue Wilson’s Navy flier, downed in hostile Bosnia.) “One interesting thing about right now,” Hackman told reporters recently, “is that we all have a sense of patriotism, of course, a loyalty to the military. It’s changed since the post-Vietnam era, when we looked upon the military differently. Now we all sort of hopped on the bandwagon, as it were. And the movie works because it makes Americans feel good about what they do.” Much of the film, which opens Friday, was shot aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson. “It’s now in the Arabian Sea,” said the 71-year-old actor Oscar winner (for 1971’s “The French Connection” and 1992’s “Unforgiven”), “doing the real thing. There’s something very pertinent about that, almost eerie, to think that someone in the room I slept in is about to attack Afghanistan.”