Monday, March 26, 2018

Wire Under a Bird

The latest movie viewing to clear something off my DVR was the romantic chase flick, Bird on a Wire

The movie starts off with Eugene Sorenson (David Carradine) being releasd from a federal penitentiary and picked up by friend Diggs (Bill Duke). The two then go down to Atlantic City to discuss a big drug deal. The only thing is, they're going to have to take care of somebody before they can do the deal.

Cut to New York City. Marianne (Goldie Hawn) is a high-powered attorney handling a business deal for a client who has gotten to a sensitive part of the negotiations. She's going to have to go on a business trip to Detroit to deal with the company wanting to buy out her client's company. So of course we...

Cut to Detroit. Except that we don't see Marianne; we see one of those old-time independent gas station/garages. Billy Bob (Mel Gibson) is working for the owner, who wants to take him in as a partner. Marianne arrives to gas up her car and sees Billy Bob, who looks surprisingly like an old boyfriend she used to know, Rick.

And well he should, since Billy Bob and Rick are one and the same person. Rick ratted out Sorenson 15 years earlier after a previous drug deal went bad, and Rick's best friend got killed. And Sorenson turns out to have been a rogue agent. Rick/Billy Bob has been in the witness relocation program ever since, and having been recognized, he knows he's going to have to relocate again.

Except that his old handler has retired and is probably suffering from the early stages of dementia. Rick doesn't realize that his new handler is actually working for the bad guys, although he's going to find out soon enough when Sorenson and Diggs show up at the service station.

Fortunately for Rick, Marianne shows up at the same time and is able to save Rick from Sorenson and Diggs. The only problem is that Rick is going to be wanted by the legitimate authorities, as well as by Sorensen and Diggs. And Rick and Marianne have a bad past together. Rick basically jilted Marianne, although that's partly because he had to go into the witness relocation program. Marianne understandably doesn't believe any of this.

But both of them face a rather more pressing problem, which is that they've got Sorenson and Diggs on their tails. Rick needs to get to Baird, his old handler, but that's going to be difficult. And will Baird even be able to help him? And will old romantic complications between Rick and Marianne get in the way?

What I referred to as a "romantic chase movie" in the beginning is something that I think is actually a well-traveled genre, going all the way back to something like The 39 Steps if not further. In that vein, Bird on a Wire doesn't really offer anything new. But it does succeed in entertaining. Hawn gets to be quirky again, something that she can do easily. Most of Gibson's performance only requires him to be suitably masculine, although there is some acting required in that he seeks out help from some of his previous employers in the witness relocation program, which requires Rick to be a different person each time.

There's also ample opportunity for humor with Gibson having to take on personas for several of the set pieces. The best among this is when we find that Rick had worked as a hairstylist in Racine, WI, for a boss who is very stereotypically gay. You can imagine poor Rick wondering what Marianne is thinking.

Bird on a Wire is another of those movies where I can heartily say that if you want to sit back with a bowl of popcorn and some friends and have a good time, you're probably going to get it.

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