Barb Wire

on May 03, 1996 by Kim Williamson
Just as Pierce Brosnan fulfilled a key James Bond requirement--he looked great in the tux--Pamela Lee Anderson (TV's "Baywatch" phenom) overfills a key requirement of capturing the apocalyptic comic-book character Barb Wire: She looks great in the bustier. As the buxom blonde who by day is the operator of the nightclub Hammerhead but by night takes to her Triumph motorcycle to hit the streets to perform dangerous black ops, Lee creates a titular character that is all snarl and sneer, all leather and leather (no need for lace when your outer garments are your undergarments). "She's as tender as Tuscan veal," suggests one man, but woe betide the male who calls this woman "babe." It'll be the last word he utters.
Even a casual moviegoer will see that this adaptation, directed by David Hogan (second-unit helmer for "Batman Forever" and "Alien3") and scripted by Charles Pfarrer ("Navy SEALS") and former development executive Ilene Chaiken, is a gender reworking of the "Casablanca" script. Barb Wire takes the Bogie role, and Jack Noseworthy as Barb's brother plays Sam again; Temuera Morrison (the brute in "Once Were Warriors"), a freedom fighter trying to spirit a valued Resistance leader to safety, has the Ingrid Bergman part; Victoria Rowell ("The Distinguished Gentleman") as the spiritee takes over for Paul Henreid; Steven Railsback as a police chief playing both sides stands in for Claude Rains; and assorted players as Congressional forces are the Nazis, here trying to take America for themselves. All thesps are generically good.
But the focus remains on Lee throughout, and (except for one flashback scene, in which we see the young, compassionate woman she once was) she pretty much delivers. It's a one-note performance of a one-note character, and throughout "Barb Wire" verges on the pruriency of soft-core porn (though there're no sex scenes). But Michael Richardson and Todd Moyer, producing for their Dark House label ("The Mask"), creatively aim no higher than the top of Barb's leather fittings, figure-atively speaking. It's great to see a Triumph--the two-wheeled hero of yore in "The Wild One" and "The Great Escape"--back in action, but "Barb Wire's" tank is only half full. Starring Pamela Anderson Lee, Temuera Morrison, Jack Noseworthy and Victoria Rowell. Directed by David Hogan. Written by Charles Pfarrer and Ilene Chaiken. Produced by Michael Richardson, Todd Moyer and Brad Wyman. A Gramercy release. Action. Rated R for violence and nudity/sexuality. Running time: 98 min
Tags: Starring Pamela Anderson Lee, Temuera Morrison, Jack Noseworthy, Victoria Rowell, Directed by David Hogan, Written by Charles Pfarrer, Ilene Chaiken, Produced by Michael Richardson, Todd Moyer, Brad Wyman, Gramercy, Action

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