a critiQal film review Barb Wire (1996)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: In the 21st century, a new fascist government has taken over. In Steel Harbor, the only remaining "free" city, Barb Wire (Anderson) runs a popular nightclub and doubles as a bounty hunter known for not taking sides. But, when Barb finds herself caught up in the middle of the government's pursuit of a defecting scientist (Morrison), she'll have to take sides...or become just another casualty in the crossfire.

512 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 33s)

When one thinks of all-time bad movies, Barb Wire always leaps immediately to mind, even if you haven’t seen it. But, maybe all those critics are just being too harsh. After all, the film does star Pamela Anderson. What were they expecting, Shakespeare?

Pamela Anderson, who rose to become an icon more for her body (and later, her sex tape) then her acting, takes full advantage of that overdone bod (and silicone implants) in Barb Wire. She transfers her rather vapid persona to the big screen as a vapid leather-clad bounty hunter. Needless to say, her acting isn’t exactly stellar. Given the ridiculousness of her character, however, she really doesn’t have to act much to play a character whose also more known for her body than any other skills. Watching her play a hardass is laughable, but the filmmakers thought of this, putting her up against a wimp like Clint Howard for her “big toughie” sequence.

Surprisingly, there are quite a few recognizable actors attached to what must have been expected to be a bomb. Some of them even help to make the film actually worth watching. While Jack Noseworthy is largely wasted as Barb’s blind sibling, Udo Kier seems a perfect fit as her odd butler/friend. Xander Berkley is also perfect as a sleazy – and unapologetically dirty – cop. And Temuera Morrison, who would later go on to become Janga Fett in the Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002), is decent as Barb’s long-lost love interest/rebellion aide.

The varied acting just can’t overcome the truly ridiculous plot. The laughable plot is basically just a cover-up of the film’s easily-guessed true motives – show off Pam’s outrageous body on the big screen. Inconsistent plot points abound. For example, she is able to pose as an anonymous stripper at the beginning of the film, despite being recognized instantly wherever she goes, even by out-of-towners like Col. Pryzer. And Barb Wire is just the start of the ridiculous names: the crime kingpin of the town goes by the name of Big Fatso. Since the film is only a vehicle to show off Pam’s body, however, things like that fall by the wayside like the meaningless garbage they are.

With the real basis of the film so easily apparent, it’s no wonder it didn’t do so well in theaters. After all, for those who wanted that, there was already plenty of material available without having to sit through a ridiculously-themed film to get to it.

Unfortunately, that means that the purpose behind Barb Wire was a lost cause even before the shooting began. Despite some surprisingly decent efforts from supporting cast members like Xander and Udo, the film never manages to get past it’s ridiculously see-through setup. So it fails to deliver something viewers will actually find themselves getting interested in.

Of course, the fact that there are decent performances in such a vapid film as Barb Wire comes as a complete shock. That manages to make Barb Wire better than the viewer ever expected . But with such low expectations going in, that’s not saying much.

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