February 3, 2017

Blu-Ray Review: LIFE ON THE LINE

Starring John Travolta, Kate Bosworth, Devon Sawa, Gil Bellows, Julie Banz, Ryan Robbins, Ty Olsson, Sharon Stone. Directed by David Hackl. (2015, 97 min).

The current difference between John Travolta and Bruce Willis is, even though both seem content to use their what's left of their marque value to collect paychecks, at least Travolta still appears to be trying. That doesn't necessarily mean Life on the Line is any good. Though this budget-conscious disaster film purports to pay tribute to the lives and selfless heroics of power line workers, Travolta earnest performance is really all it has going for it.

The rest is a predictable mix of subplots, cliched dialogue ("we're linemen...that's what we do") and a glorified cameo by Sharon Stone. The set-up forces us to spend way too much time with stock characters we don't care about before a climactic storm puts them in jeopardy. These characters will be familiar to anyone who's ever seen a Hallmark Channel action film. We have the seasoned old veteran with a troubled past (Travolta), the young upstart who must prove himself (Devon Sawa), the upstart's love interest (Kate Bosworth) who happens to be related to the seasoned old veteran, and the one-dimensional sleaze who exists to put others in peril. As of this writing, I'm still trying to figure out what purpose Stone's character serves.

"Dammit, this IS my real hair!"
As for the storm itself...the all low wattage action (no pun intended) happens during the final twenty minutes, consisting mostly of a phony looking train crash, lots of sparking transformers and a few downed power poles. There isn't much visual spark to the proceedings (again, no pun intended) and the special effects are on par with what you'd see in something produced by The Asylum.

Though Travolta isn't bad, are low rent action flicks like this all he's able to get these days? Or is he simply having a harder time saying no? Either way, he deserves better than working with a director whose main claim to fame is Saw V. Maybe it's time for Quentin Tarantino to throw him another lifeline.

On the plus side, Life on the Line is better than Battlefield Earth.


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