Barb Wire (1996)

Rating: ***
Cast: Pamela Lee Anderson, Rae Dawn Chong, Clint Howard

It's "Casablanca" (1942) in tight black leather and vinyl. In a future where America is suffering a bloody civil war, there exists a neutral free port where a sexy night club owner and freelance mercenary named Barb Wire (Pamela Lee Anderson) lives. She gets involved in an operation to smuggle an important doctor (Rae Dawn Chong) into Canada, which leaves her club smashed and many of her friends dead. But she finally prevails over all of the baddies in the end. Based on the comic book series by Dark Horse, I had high hopes for this film setting a new standard in Hollywood female action heroes. I was a fool and was severely let down. The film comes close to hitting the mark a couple of times, but the filmmakers were far more interested in getting Ms. Anderson naked than they were in developing her action persona. Too damn bad. The film also suffers from Ms. Anderson's performance, which is flat and lifeless. For the most part, she looks pretty good, but is never convincing. And lastly, the film totally disregards Barb Wire as being the star of the movie by having the climax be two dudes beating each other up. Stupid and annoying. Having said all that, the film really isn't that bad. Even though the material is exploitive in nature, the camera stays focussed on the action at hand, instead of tastelessly lingering on Ms. Anderson's boobs. After you get through the offensively gratuitous opening credits (I nearly left the theater before they finished), the remainder of the film is a relatively fun and exciting B-movie action romp.