Friday, November 11, 2016

Barb Wire

Barb Wire (1997) is an exploitation movie starring Pamela
Anderson Lee, one of the Baywatch babes subsequently infamous for a sex tape that shows her impaled, apparently alive, on the Rock-and-Roller Tommy Lee's massive phallus.  (I haven't seen this tape, by all accounts not much better than the more professionally mounted Barb Wire -- a piece of pornography damaged, I am told, by the heroine's dogged sincerity in her strenuous labors.)   Dressed in dominatrix-black leather and studs, the protagonist, a woman warrior named Barb Wire, rampages across a dystopian landscape -- the United States in 2017, a nation embroiled in a nightmarish Civil War that seems to pit denizens of a Star Wars movie against the inhabitants of a Mad Max picture:  soldiers in BDSM gear fight Jabba the Hut in a vast, burning junkyard.  The film's title sequence delivers the goods -- that is, the heroine writhing in a spray of chilly, nipple-stiffening water and we get to see her formidable breasts, more or less, naked for a couple of minutes.  After that sequence, ending, jauntily, with Ms. Anderson Lee, hurling a stiletto-heeled into a bad guy's forehead, the heroine covers herself up, cinches her corset about her waist, and doesn't show much other than cleavage for the duration of the movie.  The first ten minutes of the movie promise trash heaven -- everything's luridly lit, people get tortured, and there are grotesque bad guys with faces that look like images from a Dick Tracy cartoon; the action scenes are expertly shot and edited and have a real kick.  And, then, it's as if the entire rest of the movie were designed, shot, and cut by someone completely different.  The movie isn't just sex and violence -- it turns out to have a complex, even labyrinthine plot, based (astonishingly enough) on the classic film, Casablanca.  It's impossible to follow what is happening -- the story has something to do with evading identification by retinal fingerprinting through the use of contact lenses.  The film's MacGuffin, the object of contention, is a stack of contraband contact lenses.  The film takes itself seriously and seems interminable -- it is deeply, profoundly, and relentlessly boring.  In the end, there are some gaudy explosions, a fist-fight atop a crane that's about 25 stories high, and some Hum-Vee chases.  But, by this time, the audience has long since ceased caring.  Pamela Anderson Lee is appealing enough in her iron-lady way -- she resembles Fox News' Valkyries -- Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson -- but the movie lacks all charm; it doesn't even have the kinky appeal of a film so bad that it's good. 

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