Getting the Bird gives Gibson the Hawn
"Bird on a Wire" is a movie which was made not because it had some wonderful original storyline, or a lot of special effects, although it does have a lot of chase sequences, nope it appears to have been made because someone was looking for a vehicle to pair up the comedy talents and screen appeal of Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. Whilst "Bird on a Wire" is a little bit of fun, neither the rapid wit and charm of Mel Gibson or the comedy and shapely figure of Goldie Hawn can make it anymore than it is, which is very repetitive and quite average.
15 years after entering the Witness Protection program when he turned evidence on a corrupt drugs enforcement agent, Rick Jarmin (Mel Gibson - Air America) finds himself on the run when a corrupt FBI agent working for the guy he put in prison informs on him. Along with his ex girlfriend Marianne (Goldie Hawn - Death Becomes Her) who stumbles across him whilst in Detroit they try to make it to the one person Rick can trust but after 15 years of living fake lives Rick has had enough of always looking over his shoulder.
Probably the biggest problem with "Bird on a Wire" is that by the sheer nature of the storyline it is a repetitive movie. The fact that it centres around Rick Jarmin who has been on the witness protection program having to go on the run accompanied by his ex who accidentally bumps into him means that much of the movie revolves around the near misses and numerous chase sequences where they escape the bad guys. It becomes more and more convoluted as each chase scene tries to be more spectacular than the last going from car to motorbike and then onto a plane chase sequence which is completely unbelievable. All of which builds up to a predictable big showdown which you guessed it borders on the ridiculous in search of delivering excitement.
But in a way all of this repetitive nature shouldn't be an issue because "Bird on a Wire" is a comedy caper, full of comedy chase scenes and a semi antagonistic relationship between Rick and Marianne. Again by nature the chases have to be over the top to be funny and occasionally they are, although a little obvious with gags surrounding Goldie Hawn's shapely butt as she climbs a ladder, or Gibson stuck between her legs as they race off in a car. But so much of the humour is as repetitive as the chase scenes that by the third time around the jokes are starting to lose their edge.
Of course this is all wrapped up in an expected romance between the ex lovers as their bickering paves way to their true feelings coming to the front. But you guessed it, it is all rather to obvious. There are no surprises as the storyline almost follows a play it by number formula as to when things should happen.
All of this means is that "Bird on a Wire" relies on two things Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn. The whole purpose of the movie seems to be about the pairing and the comedy of all these over the top scenes. The trouble is that whilst Mel Gibson gives us all that rapid wit which he does so well, the sort of thing he does in the "Lethal Weapon" movies, and Goldie Hawn plays the gorgeous ex who argues her way through much of the movie in a humorous way the material they work with is slim. Many of the jokes they have to try and deliver are plainly dull and it's only that both are so good at comedy that they make even the stupidest of gags, and there are a lot of them, at least a little bit funny. Is it a great comedy pairing, well to be honest it isn't but I am sure that's to do with the material they are working with rather than problems between them.
Aside from Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn there are various recognizable faces that crop up such as Stephen Tobolowsky the crooked FBI agent and David Carradine as well as Bill Duke putting in slim performances as the bad guys Sorenson and Diggs. But "Bird on a Wire" is all about the pairing of Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn and as such these supporting characters are purely 2 dimensional and almost unimportant.
What this all boils down to is that "Bird on a Wire" is a pretty average movie made for the sole reason of show casing Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn in a comedy set up. The storyline is rudimentary and the repetitive nature of both the comedy and chase scenes makes it a little bit monotonous. But both Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn make it at least a bit entertaining with some decent but ultimately unmemorable performances.