The year is 2017 and the Second American Civil War is still raging, with every city in the country labouring under martial law, all except Steel Harbor which is a hotbed of crime, yet remains a place where the citizens are truly free. Although they would be freer if it were not for the government agents making their presence felt, just one of the hazards that mercenary Barb Wire (Pamela Anderson) has to negotiate as tonight when she poses as a stripper and saves a kidnapped schoolgirl from some organised crime gang. For her day job, she runs a bar in the city, but soon she will have to make a moral decision...
Billed here as Pamela Anderson Lee, this was the pneumatic glamour model's attempt to break into the movies after becoming one of the most famous women on the planet for her starring role in TV series Baywatch, but proving that what the public are prepared to watch on the small screen for free was not necessarily what they were prepared to shell out for in the cinema. This was especially notable due to the lack of nudity in Barb Wire, which for a celebrity who many fans were keen to see naked was something of a letdown, no matter how many leather bustiers she squeezed into: those enamoured of her physical charms were likely to get more out of her calendars.
Or indeed her sex tape, where you could see as much of her as you wanted and not have to worry about anything like plot. For those who did see Barb Wire, what they got was a mishmash of sub-Mad Max sci-fi passing for entertainment, not much above the level of one of those eighties post-apocalypse movies except with a more famous leading lady. Actually, what many noticed was that the storyline was a loose remake of Casablanca, evidence that it was not the narrative that was what held that classic together, but a whole load of other aspects too. Indeed, the only actor here to make an impression as he was supposed to was Udo Kier, in the Dooley Wilson role (he even sings a bit).
But not even the presence of Udo could stave off the boredom as one damn thing follows another, noisy, glossy but deliberately rundown looking, a lot like one of the rock or pop videos first time director David Hogan was responsible for. Some video directors manage to forge a respectable career in the movies, but not in this case: Barb Wire was such a disaster at the box office it tainted Hogan's vocation, particularly as it came across as if he had no real grip on the material; this was one which the producers looked to have been pulling the strings. So without a reliable creative force behind this, what you were left with was a succession of poses and would-be elegantly wasted imagery.
Barb, just as Humphrey Bogart had acted back in the forties, is contacted by an old flame who she thought walked out on her years ago. He is Axel (Temuera Morrison), now a freedom fighter married to a woman vital to the fight against the evil forces of government and looking to escape to Canada. To do this she needs a pair of contact lenses to fool the retinal scan identification security, and there follows a tiresome series of scenes where chief bad guy Steve Railsback tortures and intimidates his way through the cast hunting down both the lenses and Axel's wife (Victoria Rowell). This is told in such a confused manner that you could be forgiven for not being able to follow it, or not wanting to follow it if you simply watched to see Anderson in (but not out of) her outfits. Barb doesn't like people to call her babe, but surely that was preferable to being called turkey; it doesn't even operate as camp. Music by Michel Colombier.