A couple of days ago I watched an action / sci-fi movie, directed by David Hogan (“Most Wanted”). Released nearly twenty tears ago now, in 1996, and not viewed by me for at least a decade, “Barb Wire” is something of a guilty pleasure.
The film is set in America during the year 2017, during the Second American Civil War, where the Congressional Directorate have seized control of the entire country, which the notable exception of Steel Harbor. The Congressionals have developed a virus that they are planning to use against entire cities.
Barb Wire (Pamela Anderson – “Baywatch”, “V.I.P.”) runs a nightclub called The Hammerhead in Steel Harbor, but also supplements her income by working as a bounty hunter and mercenary. As the movie opens she is writhing around on the stage of the nightclub, whilst getting rather wet and having no success whatsoever in keeping her remarkably buoyant breasts within her ill-fitting leather dress.
This scene ends when one of the patrons makes the mistake of calling her “babe” – resulting in death-by-stilleto-heel-to-the-forehead and the first uttering of Barb’s catchphrase “Don’t Call Me Babe”.
Before long The Hammerhead is raided by local police chief Alexander Willis (Xander Berkeley – “Terminator 2 : Judgment Day”, “Nikita”), who is looking for a fugitive former government scientist Dr. Corrina Devonshire.
Dr. Devonshire, AKA Cora D (Victoria Rowell – “The Young And The Restless”, “Diagnosis Murder”) has had surgery to alter her appearance and is aiming to reach freedom in Canada to blow the whistle on the Congressionals virus plans. However the authorities have retinal recognition scanners at airports and borders.
As luck would have it, the resistance movement have a pair of special contact lenses that will allow the wearer to pass through the scanners undetected, which end up (naturally) at Barb’s nightclub.
Also turning up at the nightclub are Cora D and her freedom fighter husband Axel Hood (Temuera Morrison – “Vertical Limit”, “Once Were Warriors”). Axel and Barb were lovers at the outbreak of the conflict but became separated during the ongoing civil war.
Cora D needs the contact lenses to get to Canada, Congressional baddie Colonel Pryzer (Steve Railsback – “Follow The Prophet”, “Ed Gein”) is after both the lenses and Cora D, Willis is under direction from Pryzer but has a soft spot for Barb, and Barb plans to use the lenses to make a small fortune and escape to Canada herself…
The nasty Congressionals wear uniforms that look remarkably like those from Nazi Germany, some of the sets look exactly like sets and Barb’s hair gets very big at times, even by the standards of the day!
This film is, seemingly, based not-so-loosely on the plot of “Casablanca”, with gender swapping seeing Anderson in the Bogart role, and added violence, guns, explosions, sci-fi and boobs… but it is unlikely to ever be regarded in a similar light as a bona-fide movie classic.
When this movie hit the cinema screen back in 1996 it was with an 18 certificate. That was most likely due to some nudity rather than anything else. There is violence throughout the film, but really it’s almost cartoonish – presumably as a result of the main character’s comic book origins.
It’s probably fair to say that the main target audience consisted of teenage males – many of whom wouldn’t have been able to get in to see the film, and it’ll be the nostalgic teenager in me that enjoyed watching it again.
In truth, this isn’t a great film. It’s not a particularly good film. The pacing is slow, the plot haphazard and even the sexual scenes oddly unerotic. Anderson acquits herself reasonably well but if this was supposed to move her from TV success to big screen success then it wasn’t likely to work. If you want to see Anderson at her best, projecting some genuine sexuality and involved in better storylines you’d be best off catching re-runs of “Baywatch”, but this is still an entertaining 90 minutes if watched once every ten years or so!…