Bird on a Wire is pedal-to-the-metal moviemaking by the numbers. What it's got going for it is that Goldie Hawn is cute and Mel Gibson is cuter as they struggle to mate screwball comedy to a chase thriller. The pleasant surprise is that Gibson has a flair for light comedy and the timing to bring off double-takes. It's a relief, too, because little else in Bird on a Wire is fresh. [18 May 1990, p.77p]
Moves along quite entertainingly for a while and then begins to get swallowed up by its own high (and high-tech) concepts. By the end, what had been a rather amusing, zany chase comedy starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn has turned into a bizarre and totally ridiculous free-for-all in a zoo, with crocodiles slithering and tigers roaring and piranhas chewing up people. [18 May 1990, p.3F]
Within the first half-hour, we've met the baddies (led by a taciturn Carradine), heard Rick and Marianne's teasing banter, and experienced the thrills of a shootout and car chase. As for what follows, this drearily repetitious film offers more of the same with variations in backdrop, all directed in perfunctory fashion by Badham. It does have a nice '60s soundtrack; shame about the rest.
I think the Eighties were very important for the growth of many actors who, for us now, are practically veterans. Mel Gibson was one of those actors, whose career progressed rapidly over the course of that decade, starting with smaller or less notable films that opened doors for the great works of maturity. This film, an action comedy dating back to 1990, is totally forgotten now but was certainly useful for this actor's growth.
The script is simple: Marianne Graves, a lawyer, accidentally discovers her former fiancé, Rick Jarmin, who abandoned her at the altar and she thought he was dead. In fact, he had become involved with drug cartels and lived under the witness protection program, going through several jobs and identities, in order to collaborate with the FBI against Eugene Sorenson, a corrupt agent who was the pivot of the trafficking business. Pursued by traffickers who kill his last boss, Jarmin will also run from police, who thinks he is the murder.
It is a film full of problems at various levels, starting with improbability and a lack of logic or credibility. It is virtually impossible for something similar to the script to happen to anyone, but although we can accept the general story, there are a lot of concrete situations without any hint of verisimilitude. Another problem is the bad characters, especially the stereotype of the **** hairdresser, which sounds almost insulting. The excessive use of nudity or semi-nudity (in particular the main actress' ass) also seemed to be unreasonable, adding nothing good to the film. The ending takes place in the strangest of sets: a zoo where animals will help the couple to get rid of their enemies.
The film stars Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. Both carry the film on their backs and acted very well, and it is quite evident that the two actors knew well how to work and collaborate together. Still, it's an imperfect work: while Gibson used an unnecessary and poorly made Southern accent, Hawn is very histrionic and spoiled to the point of being annoying.
Technically, it is a regular but very dated film, as it is within the standards of the time it was made. It contains several special effects usual in action films and cinematography is somewhat monotonous for our eyes, used to the brightness and sharpness of the digital era. On the other hand, the main song, which is used as a leitmotiv and in the final credits, is quite interesting and is in the ear.