I know Pierce Brosnan has his supporters, but I just have to ask, how was this guy allowed a career? Did the producers of the James Bond franchise see Taffin before they hired him?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely pleased that Brosnan was blessed with a career far too good for an actor with his limited ability. If not for that, there would be no Live Wire.

USA, 1992, Christian Duguay

Disgruntled FBI bomb diffuser Danny O’Neill (Pierce Brosnan) disarms a bomb that sits under the steering wheel of a car between the legs of a beautiful woman. Danny finishes the job, makes a sleazy comment about the woman not wearing underwear and heads to his next job. A senator (Norman Burton) has just been murdered in a bizarre terrorist attack. He was killed in an explosion, but Danny and his team can find no evidence of a detonator. Calling it a day, Danny heads off to yell at his wife (Lisa Eilbacher) who has just forced a restrainer order upon him. As if things couldn’t get worse, Danny endures a flashback to his daughter’s death, which he feels guilty about – understandably, considering it was due to his negligence. Another senator (Philip Baker Hall) is blown up when his colleague explodes after drinking water spiked by an undercover terrorist. Danny realises that the detonators are people themselves reacting to a chemical placed in their drinking water. To Danny’s dismay, the next target is Senator Frank Traveres (Ron Silver), the man Danny believes his wife is sleeping with, and he must protect him.

One thing elevates Live Wire above your average early 90s action film: exploding people. I can’t think of too many straight-faced action films that feature scenes of characters internally blowing up. Not only that, Live Wire also delivers its explosive humans in quite a gratuitous manner. Their eyes goes bloodshot, we see close ups of their skin breaking apart and then BAM! – nothing left but a few charred fingers. You also have to appreciate the audacity of the film’s villains. What made them go for such an obscure method of terrorism? I don’t know, but I’m sure glad they did. The film’s crowning explosive moment is when a terrorist dressed as a clown falls victim to his own poisoned water. I’m very pleased to have seen a clown explode in a film.

Brosnan, of course, adds a layer of absurdism to the proceedings. His character is needlessly dark; his brooding over his daughter’s death is extremely out of place in a film about exploding people. And Brosnan’s performance is unchained. He sobs and cries, screams madly at his wife and makes off-colour jokes at crime scenes – crime scenes where people have died. Brosnan tries to hide his Irish accent, but it sneaks through regularly, especially when he’s screaming, which is a lot. The supporting cast is unremarkable for the most part. Although, we do get a super sleazy Ron Silver, who always makes for a good villain, and it’s nice to see Philip Baker Hall show up, albeit for a paltry few minutes. Tony Plana steals a bit of Brosnan’s wailing thunder as one of the terrorist lackeys. Sadly, he’s blown up fairly quickly.

Even without a tough guy heavyweight like Seagal or Van Damme for its centrepiece, Live Wire still makes for a solid action flick from the genre’s golden age of the late 80s and early 90s. What Brosnan lacks in toughness, acting skill and charisma, he makes up for with smarmy looks and panicked shouts. But most importantly, this film delivers what it promises: thrills, violence and exploding people. Live Wire is a winner.


Live Wire is readily available on DVD from New Line Home Video in a bare bones, but ridiculous cheap, Region 1 release. The disc features both the R-rated version of the film and the unrated version. If you dig your early 90s action, I’d recommend taking the risk and shelling out the shrapnel.