by Adam Thas
It’s been a while since I’ve written a “Staying Positive,” so allow me a brief refresher. I watch a movie that has a reputation for not being very good, critically or through my own experience with the movie, and I try to find the things to like about it. In honor of 1996 week, I decided to re-watch the 1996 action romp Barb Wire.
What makes Barb Wire interesting initially is that it is a comic book movie way before comic book movies were a thing. Back in the fervor that was the early '90s comic book madness, Dark Horse Comics conceived an idea to start a separate universe called Comics’ Greatest World made up of dozens of new titles and one shots to capitalize on the market. While it was relatively successful, by the time those titles came out in 1993 and 1994, the luster and madness of comic collecting had started to die off. Unfortunately, Barb Wire (the comic) only lasted 9 issues and was just another comic series buried in the piles of comics printed in the early '90s. Naturally, the type of thing you make a movie about.
Along with a topless Anderson, Barb Wire delivers on action (not saying it’s all good action, but there is a lot of action), with plenty of explosions, machine guns, and gadgets galore. About three quarters of the way through the movie, Barb Wire shoots rockets out of the front of her motorcycle and I immediately thought of Delta Force, a movie that in some circles is beloved. There has been criticism of Anderson for her (lack of) acting, and while she is not good, she’s as good or better than I’ve seen Steven Seagal or Chuck Norris be in plenty of movies. It’s clear that Barb Wire is doing a lot of things that I have liked in other movies, so why is Barb Wire considered a pariah in movies from not only 1996, but the '90s in general?
Unfortunately for Anderson, this was not the breakout role she had hoped it would be, and Barb Wire would not make her nearly as famous or make nearly as much money as a stolen video tape would later that year. When looking at Barb Wire through a more positive lens, it’s doing things that we’ve loved in other movies. There are some genuinely fun action sequences, and if boobs are your thing it’s got plenty of those. While it’s not a good movie, it certainly doesn’t deserve the venom it receives.