May 3, 1996 in Seven

‘Barb Wire’ A Dud Despite Takeoff On ‘Casablanca’

Steven Rea Philadelphia Inquirer

Pamela Anderson Lee and her augmented orbs - breasts that enter a room days in advance of the rest of her - star in the title role of “Barb Wire,” a cartoony, sci-fi take on “Casablanca” in which the former “Baywatch” star basically plays Bogie, in spike heels and leather.

As the proprietor of the post-apocalyptic Hammerhead Bar, Barb is a hardened entrepreneur determined to stay neutral and make a few bucks in a world of warring idealist rebels and Gestapo-like government thugs. When Barb’s old beau (New Zealand hulk Temuera Morrison, in the Ingrid Bergman role) appears with an underground scientist in tow (Victoria Rowell, as a distaff Victor Laszlo), Barb’s heartstrings get tugged. (You can practically see the effect on her anatomy: “You’re looking rather buoyant this evening,” observes her bald-headed headwaiter.)

“Barb Wire,” which opens with a credit sequence that looks like an outtake from Lee’s Playboy videos (wet, writhing and topless), isn’t horrible, exactly, but it isn’t any good. As an action heroine, Lee has a couple of good kickboxing moves, straddles a Triumph motorcycle convincingly and sports a decent Eastwood-y sneer. But the screenplay, credited to Chuck Pfarrer and Ilene Chaiken and plotted-out scene by scene from “Casablanca,” is a muddle of cyberpunk gibberish and weary retorts.

David Hogan’s direction (a rock video/second unit guy making his feature debut) plods in all the wrong places, though he and his cinematographer have gone to great lengths to photograph their siliconed star from every conceivable angle. (Gaping down at Lee from overhead is like a flyover of the Grand Canyon.)

“Barb Wire” can be intermittently amusing, as in when Lee breaks a nail in combat or when a character named Big Fatso descends from a bulldozer’s maw. But despite its gimmicky appropriation of a film classic’s storyline and the preternatural physique of its leading lady, the picture is a dud. xxxx “Barb Wire” Locations: Lincoln Heights, Lyons and Coeur d’Alene cinemas Credits: Directed by David Hogan, starring Pamela Anderson Lee, Temuera Morrison and Victoria Rowell Running time: 1:38 Rating: R

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email