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Warner Home Video presents
"Why doesn't anybody ever listen to me?"
DVD ReviewThis explosion-filled 1995 action flick from director Mark Roper—veteran of a couple of Operation Delta Force sequels as well as the television series Relic Hunter—has really nothing to do with the 1992 release Live Wire, a moderately tolerable thriller with Pierce Brosnan, though judging by the cover art and title the implications are certainly there. Yes, the lead characters in both are your garden variety flawed heroes—a genre requirement if there ever was— and both are involved in plotlines that involve frequent explosions, but Live Wire: Human Timebomb can't put all the pieces together in the right order.
Our hero is wisecracking Jim Parker (Bryan Genesse), a hunky, nicely coiffed former marine with painful memories (cue critical foreshadowing) now working as an FBI agent. The opening sequence, set at an abandoned drive-in theater, is meant to hammer home his macho cockiness as he leads an army of agents (complete with standard issue missile-firing helicopter) in breaking up a drug transaction between some stock villains who like they swaggered off the set of Miami Vice. Parker's choice of a long leather duster—which I'm sure in no way would constrict his movements in a gun battle—is no doubt used only so that when he swings down from a rope his jacket will billow up behind him.
The plot involves the possible reopening of trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba, a rogue Cuban general and his snarling, pony-tailed henchman, and a top-secret microchip that when implanted in a person turns them into an easily controlled robot assassin of sorts. The alleged high drama kicks in when Parker gets snatched by the Cubans, held prisoner and implanted with the microchip, hence turning him into a modern day Manchurian Candidate that will do the evil bidding of the nasty Cuban bad guys. Add to that a duplicitous Federal agent, played by J. Cynthia Brooks, thrown in as the token female/love interest. and all the stock components are there.
In order to propel the inevitable action forward, director Roper adds explosion on top of explosion, with the same kind of regularity as a softcore flick needs a pare of bare breasts every seven to ten minutes to remind viewers what they're watching. In Live Wire: Human Timebomb everything explodes. I mean everything. Every chase scene, every shoot out, every action scene includes massively large fireballs and things exploding. There is even a scene where a character falls off of the roof of a high rise and explodes on impact. Ok, he was wearing explosives, but you get my point.
This is cornball action fodder, with macho characters, stock cliches and lots of stuff going boom in big orange fireballs.
Rating for Style: D
Rating for Substance: D-
Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer has its share of compression issues, but color reproduction is respectable. The flaws on this one tend to come in the form of minor edge enhancement rather than print-related problems. Decent black levels, a pleasing set of vivid colors, and fleshtones that all have a fairly natural look.
Image Transfer Grade: B-
Audio Transfer Review: The presence of a DTS track on this disc is almost as prominent as the film's title on the front cover, and for all the potential of an explosion-filled film to rattle my walls, this one falls short. Both the DTS and 5.1 are virtually identical, where some sporadic minor sub rumble is buttressed by a slightly pinched primary track that makes gunshots like paper cups being squashed. Dialogue, as jive as it is, is cleanly presented, and a moderately aggressive mix pops the rear channels to life during the big explosions, which occur about every ten minutes.
A less beefy 2.0 surround track is also available, and for all the promise of DTS, this particular mix isn't all that light.
Audio Transfer Grade: C+
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Live Wire, Aces: Iron Eagles III, A Man Apart, Excessive Force
Extras Review: Thankfully the only extras are a quartet of trailers (including the original and marginally better Live Wire), so if nothing else New Line has minimized the time this tired outing has to sit in my player.
The disc is cut into 20 chapters, and features optional subtitles in English or Spanish.
Extras Grade: D+
Final CommentsUnless you just absolutely love watching things explode, it is unlikely that you need to invest the time out of your busy life to watch Live Wire: Human Timebomb.
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