Live Wire (1992)

Country: United States
Director: Christian Duguay
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Ron Silver, Ben Cross, Lisa Eichorn, Philip Baker Hall, Tony Plana, Al Waxman, Norman Burton
Music: Craig Safan

Live Wire is another turkey from Pierce Brosnan, made during the gap between Remmington Steele and his resurgence in Goldeneye. Livewire features an incredibly contrived story with a few too many co-incidences, and plot holes large enough to…well you know the clichés. Apparently the film-makers didn’t.

The film opens with an ominous warning:

“Over the last decade more than 3,600 lives worldwide have been lost as a direct act of terrorism. Nearly every country on the globe has its share of political kidnappings, hijackings, and firebombing, with one notable exception…the United States of America
Due to a stable political system, and the difficulty of smuggling easily detectable incendiary devices into the country, the United States has been relatively safe…

…until now”

As if the introductory text was not enough, the film labours it’s point about world terrorism as the credits roll. Intercut with everyday scenes of life in Washington DC, we view snippets of newsreel footage from infamous terrorist acts – namely Lockerbie, the Achille Lauro, and the attack of the US Embassy in Beirut. Of course, post 9/11, the whole introduction seems rather redundant, but I guess the film-makers could not fore-tell the furure.

The film opens in a swank restaurant. Senator Victor (Norman Burton) is enjoying his meal as a waiter tops up his glass with water. Also dining at the restaurant is Mikhail Rashid (Ben Cross) (the only actor who attempts to inject some life into these tired proceedings). Rashid waves to the Senator and then leaves. The waiter who poured the Senator’s water also wishes to leave the restaurant quickly. He ditches his apron and scarpers out the back, unseen. The senator takes a sip of water and then goes into convulsions. Initially the other diners believe he is having a heart attack. But once his eyes start to bulge, they realise it is something more sinister. Then the Senator explodes.

Meanwhile Danny O’Neill (Pierce Brosnan) is burrowed between the legs of a beautiful girl – but not in the way you are thinking! O’Neill is the FBI’s leading explosives expert, and he is on assignment. A gorgeous blonde in a red convertible has stopped her car on the freeway. It seems she has had an affair, and in retaliation her husband has planted a bomb under her car seat. If she get up, the bomb will detonate. It’s this predicament that is the reason from O’Neill’s unusual position between the girls legs. Of course, O’Neill disables the bomb with three seconds to spare.

As a reward, he is lumped with a restraining order from his ex-wife, Terry (Lisa Eilbacher), but he doesn’t have time to stew over his personal life. Immediately he is whisked away by chopper to the restaurant crime scene. All of the investigators are confused by the circumstances surrounding the explosion. It appears to be a terrorist attack, but no incendiary device is found – no metal, chemical or plastic residue – they’re baffled.

Afterwards, despite a restraining order, O’Neill turns up to confront Terry. It seems that he still carries a torch for her. Their marrigae, or what’s left of it, has been rather stormy since the death of their daughter who died in a swimming pool accident. Adding to the tension, rumours abound that Terry is having an affair with Senator Frank Traveres (Ron Silver), who she happens to work for.

This sloppy backstory takes up way to much of the film and the coincidences are laid on very thick. The real story concerns three U.S. Senators who pass a bill which supports a clandestine arms deal. These senators are Victor (who is dead), Thyme (Philip Baker Hall), and as you’ve no doubt guessed, Traveres. The Senators all support the bill. They get rich, and are expected to pay a fee to Rashid.

But after the deal has gone through, the Senators renege on paying their fees. Naturally enough, the aggrieved Rashid takes matters into his own hands by killing off the Senators one by one with his nifty liquid explosive, which is alarmingly similar to water. This lethal cocktail, once consumed, mixes with their stomach acids and it becomes a lethal nitro-style concoction turning the consumer into a human bomb. This is all graphically displayed with bulging red eyes, streams of blood pouring from all orifices, and stomachs and chests splitting open. After the death of Victor, Rashid turns his attention to Senator Thyme. Thyme, despite Victor’s demise, tells Rashid to go ‘fuck himself’. Now I don’t know if this is the best way to speak to a terrorist, but Thyme believes he is untouchable because he is a high powered Senator. Rashid proves that he is in fact, very ‘touchable’.

With two down, one to go, O’Neill is assigned to protect Traveres. Obviously he is not too happy about his new assignment, as he see Traveres as the reason for the breakup of his marriage. And furthermore, he suspects that Traveres is a target due to some underhanded deal. Right on both counts. The contrivances continue until Rashid kidnaps Terry forcing O’Neill to not only rescue her but save the Senator in order to find out why he’s a target. It’s difficult to explain all the plot strands when everybody is so nepitiously linked.

The film features a musical score by Craig Safan. It is soft-cock rock of the worst kind. And it’s not that it has dated that makes it bad – it was never any good to begin with.

Apparently an in-name only sequel was made – not featuring Pierce Brosnan. I have not rushed out to see it.

This review is based on the New Line Entertainment USA DVD

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