New Line // 1995 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // October 21st, 2004
In case you haven't had your fill of low-budget, super-cheesy mid-'90s action flicks, New Line is here to bludgeon you with another one.
Carter (Bryan Genesse, Death Train) is a loose cannon FBI agent with a quick mouth, and an even quicker trigger finger. We meet him for the first time at a big cocaine bust, where he foils the efforts of a dozen mean-looking thugs while he stands on top of a giant wall and shouts insults at them. When the guns inevitably open fire, Carter rappels down the wall, miraculously avoiding every single bullet, and opens up...I don't know...maybe a six-pack of whoop-ass, while screaming his signature line in a real over-the-top, crazy-look-in-his-eyes manner: "Let's dance!"
When the dust settles, Carter walks away with a prize collar -- a valuable go-between for drug cartels and a major player in the Cuban underworld. Meanwhile, on the international stage, Cuba and the United States are about to open up trade routes again, and as a sign of good will, the two countries will exchange extradited prisoners.
Carter's crook is tagged to head back to Castro-land, much to Carter's chagrin, and is placed in the custody of a bodacious U.S. Treasury agent named Gina (J. Cynthia Brooks). Unwilling to abandon the case to the universally reviled bunch of screws-up that is the Treasury Department, Carter goes along for the transfer.
Turns out it was a set-up. Carter is imprisoned by a renegade Cuban military commander and subjected to a dangerous experiment -- some mind-control chips are implanted in his brain, making him the perfect killer, with no conscience and no will of his own.
He's meant to be part of a hit squad that will take out the important officials involved in the Cuba/U.S. accord. But just when the bad guys think Carter is under their thumb, he snaps out of his daze and uncorks his gun, his hand-to-hand combat, and his catch-phrase. Which is again, in case you forgot: "Let's dance!"
Ha! What a fantastically stupid action flick! I love me some zero-budget, decade-old, high-octane, low-cognitive-ability, run-and-gun, tub-thumping, slack-jawed, trigger-happy cinematic ka-blooie!
>From the opening moments, Live Wire 2 jettisons the frontal lobe completely, and goes for all-out testosterone inanity. Bryan Genesse is so over-the-top, he becomes an inadvertent parody of the action character he portrays. Running around in a pec-clinging, skin-tight shirt and a brown trenchcoat, Genesse as Carter hits all the necessary spots that make action flick bad-asses so great and so ludicrous.
That opening sequence is priceless. He shrieks and spouts "witty" jargon while letting the bullets fly, as the villains stand still and fire their automatic weapons (a scene which, by the way, looks as threatening as a backyard Super-Soaker firefight) and just wait to get plugged.
The real fun begins, however, when Carter is kidnapped and reprogrammed by the Cubans, who are led by a guy who looks just like Jesus. When we meet the rest of Carter's crack brainwashed hit team, it's like a collection of suburban dads masquerading as soldiers of fortune. From the pasty white guy (said to be able to kill 20 men with his bare hands) who looks more like a Merck sales rep, to the dumpy black dude who fires his machine gun haphazardly and ends up getting impaled by a pitchfork (!) despite the Kevlar vest he's wearing, the U.S. diplomats probably didn't have too much to fear.
Jones as the token hot chick does little, except unconvincingly beat up a few sentries and whine a lot, mainly because she's so overwhelmed by the sheer scene-chewing chutzpah of Genesse.
All in all, a ridiculous movie that ends up being that guilty kind of pleasure you confess to your therapist in ten years.
Ridiculous or not, New Line continues to give its movies -- despite their high ranking on the "Sucks Like Getting Kicked in the Kidneys" Scale -- a very tight audio and visual treatment. A 1.85:1 transfer holds up well, and really looks nice. The gigantic explosions of a rusted-out bus (seriously) spring to life with this picture quality. The 5.1 mixes (DTS and Dolby Digital) are a bit screwed up, with some of the channels getting mixed up. There's an explosion in the foreground for example, and it comes across in discrete fashion to my rear surrounds. Huh? Trailers and DVD content (weblinks) is it for extras.
Absolute dopiness -- but if you are a connoisseur of old-school, disposable trash action flicks, Live Wire 2 is for you.
It really should be used as a coaster or a dog toy, but the court has an affinity for these kinds of movies, and will dismiss the charges.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: New Line
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated R