Wolfgang Petersen—Das Boot (1981) In the Line of Fire (1993), Outbreak (1995), Air Force One (1997), The Perfect Storm (2000)—took over Enemy Mine in 1985. It would be his first English-language film.
Enemy Mine was more futuristic melodrama than sci-fi action feature. Dennis Quaid gives a very solid performance. It isn’t his fault that his character arc is flawed. Unflawed is the performance of Louis Gossett Jr. He, not Quaid, wins the hearts of the audience.
It’s a good thing that Gossett Jr. received an Oscar for “An Officer and a Gentleman.” He certainly worked hard enough for one in Enemy Mine. Younger audiences are fortunate to see him again as Will Reeves, the Old Man, in Watchmen.
The makeup and special effects from legend R.A. MacDonald–his next to last movie–and Chris Walas overachieved. How they lost to Mask and Cocoon is, well, water under the bridge. Their work on the movie remains watchable thirty-five years later.
Maybe part of my appreciation for Enemy Mine stems from my love of the late Gary Anderson’s UFO. One episode, much like Enemy Mine, examined the trope of enemies forced to work together. That same theme made the movie extremely popular in Russia, perhaps because of its kinship to The Forty-First. Star Trek TNG and one Jean-Luc Picard fare even better with their take on the topic in 1991’s classic Darmok.
Sadly, Enemy Mine didn’t fare well at the box office. Not even Petersen’s hand and strong performances from two talented actors could save the day. It grossed about $13 million USD but cost $40 million to make.
Reboot, please. Cameo Gossett Jr. and Quaid as Drac council members. And keep rebooting it until the very thought of enemies becoming friends is no longer alien to us.
Davidge: “Well, maybe you forgot what you said about Mickey Mouse!”
Jeriba: “That was wrong. I did not mean it.”