Barb Wire (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Barb Wire1996

Barb Wire (1996)



Critic Consensus: Barb Wire could've been fun camp, but Pamela Anderson can't deliver her lines with any dramatic or comedic impact.

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Movie Info

This quasi-feminist fantasy adventure is based on a popular Dark Horse comic and is set in a civil-war-torn United States. The year is 2017 and a Nazi-like Congressional Directorate has comandeered the government. The evil CD threatens to wipe out entire cities with Red Ribbon, a manufactured virus derived from HIV. They have already successfully tested it on the city of Topeka, and only Steel Harbor remains free. Therein lives Barb Wire (Pamela Lee), a wild-haired black leather and thigh-high boot-wearing, hog-riding spit-fire bounty-hunter who carries antibodies for Red Ribbon in her DNA. Barb frequently captures her fugitives by posing as a stripper. The only time she blows her cover is when someone dares to call her "babe." Her usual reply is punctuated by a violent act upon the offender. On her latest mission, Barb has captured a rebel fugitive, Krebs, who possesses special contact lenses that can defeat the retinal scanners the CD uses to prevent people from defecting to Canada. The evil regime wants those lenses before Krebs can pass them to Cora, D a former government physician who plans to use them to save thousands of lives.. Barb ends up with the lenses and must choose between selling them or giving them to Cora. Lee (best known for starring in the long-running syndicated show Baywatch) performed many of her own stunts.

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Pamela Anderson
as Barb Wire
Xander Berkeley
as Alexander Willis
Udo Kier
as Curly
Steve Railsback
as Col. Pryzer
Clint Howard
as Schmitz
Tony Bill
as Foster
Ken Forsgren
as Greaseball
Neil Hunt
as Weasel
Joey Sagal
as Fred the Bartender
Al Wan
as China
Ron Balicki
as Customs Agent No. 1
Alex Bookston
as Man in White Suit
Gil Borgos
as Old Man
Tina Cote
as Woman in Bar No. 1
Vinnie Curto
as Aide to Pryzer
Miles Dougal
as Goon No. 1
David Andriole
as Goon No. 2
Darrell M. Heath
as Soldier in Flashback
Diana Lee Inosanto
as Customs Agent No. 2
Tiffany Lawrence
as Security Guard
Mary Anna Reyes
as Woman in Torture Room
Joe Sagal
as Fred the Bartender
Diane Shay
as Stripper in Dressing Room
Lou Simon
as Passenger
Rene Stahl
as Woman in Bar No. 2
as Disc Jockey
Jack Wright
as Package Check Guy
Salvator Xuereb
as Young Soldier
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Critic Reviews for Barb Wire

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (14)

The irony of this style, with its high-swank grunge clutter, is that it's too dissociated to have coherence even as pop; we're always aware that we're watching sets being photographed.

July 7, 2010 | Rating: C

The movie carries its cyberpunk variation right through to the end, and usually with enough wit and craziness to freshen the mix. Then, there is Pamela, whose tight, disciplined performance deserves more respect than it will almost certainly get.

April 27, 2007

Its main source is a comic book, but it might as well be a computer.

April 27, 2007 | Full Review…

his cartoonlike starring vehicle for Pamela Anderson Lee offers enough choreographed fight sequences, heavy artillery and fleeting glimpses of the star's august body parts to satisfy the raging hormones of its target young male audience.

April 27, 2007 | Full Review…

The film's haphazardly edited, lacks narrative clout, and rambles on to a ludicrously extended conclusion.

January 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Made with a wafer-thin stylishness that thinks dressing the Congressionals like storm troopers is creative, Barb Wire plods along, following one pro forma scene with the next.

February 14, 2001 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Barb Wire

Back in the days when comicbook movie adaptations were generally wankadoodle and shrugged off within days of release, we got this. The ultra sexy, ultra tough female Dark horse character that is a bar owner by day, umm...and a part time bounty hunter by day also, naturally all set within a war ravaged dystopian future Earth (2017 people! we're almost there!). Now I bet you're thinking I'm gonna say this movie changed the game and set comicbook movies on the right path...well you're wrong. Now I knew nothing about the original Dark Horse character (still don't), like many at the time I only found out about her when this movie came out, after which there was a feverish scramble to find out more. Why you might ask, well its simple, this movie was basically a soft porn flick for Pamela Anderson (check wet strip tease at the films start), heck even the movies poster looked like a cheap porn flick image. Sounds crazy I know but back in the day Anderson was the biggest blonde bombshell since Marilyn Monroe (probably bigger) and this was her vehicle. Whether or not the movie followed the original comicbook source material I don't know but that simply didn't matter back then. This was a chance to squeeze Anderson into a skintight fishnet clad dominatrix outfit and have her gun down lots of faceless bad guys...with the odd bit of crotch crushing with her black thigh high leather boots (I'm actually turning myself on right now). The plot...what plot?? this was all about sex guy! But seriously the plot kinda ripped-off the classic 'Casablanca' believe it or not. Set during the second American Civil war in the only free city of Steel Harbor, a former government scientist is trying to escape to Canada with the help of a freedom fighter. The reason being they have information on a secret new bio weapon in development by the Nazi-like Congressional Directorate (the bad guys that overthrew the old democracy and started the war). The only reason Barb Wire is involved is because she has these special contact lenses that enable people to pass through the Nazi's retinal scans which would allow the fugitive pair to escape the US. Thing is Barb is a bitch, she doesn't play by the rules and she's on no ones side, or is she? The plot is wafer thin, had Barb just cooperated at the start the movie would have been over very quickly, and there's no real reason for her not to cooperate frankly. In typical 90's fashion this movie is visually just like all the other sci-fi action flicks of the 90's. You name it, 'Johnny Mnemonic' 'Freejack' 'Strange Days' etc...they all have a very similar bleak industrial future Earth vibe going on. Lots of steel structures usually battered or shiny, deserts, scrap yards, computer monitors everywhere, Mad Max-esque vehicles, skimpy outfits for females and generally in that typical barbaric apocalyptic setting. Yet despite its incredibly cheesy overused visuals I can't deny the film does look good for the most part. You could easily think this might be an early Michael Bay movie with all the glossy closeups of ass, sunsets, dust shots, gleaming metal, biker porn and glorious extreme usage of explosions and gun play. There are actually some nice shots here and there, some good use of sci-fi technology in an imaginative way and some well choreographed sequences. One gun battle between some thugs and Barb is actually quite decent, the gun shot sound effects are very effective with solid booms and thuds. I must also give kudos to the fact that they went with an adult rated movie and kept everything nice and...errr adult. Lets be honest with someone looking like Pammy Anderson you could hardly make a PG-13...not with those perfectly large, fake, round boobs bursting from their tight restraints. Again I don't really know how accurate everything is here but the grimy, rain soaked, heavy metal, leather-bound biker theme is pretty prominent and who am I to say that is wrong. Sure its cliched and kinda redneck-ish but bugger me if Pammy doesn't fit in so well, she's the perfect blonde biker chick from hell and she does admittedly look stunning, slutty but stunning (slutty is good mkay). All the acting is pretty terrible throughout from everyone involved obviously including Anderson, but we all know why she's here and its not for her thespian skills. A B-list of semi-famous character actors (for the time) make up the other characters, Xander Berkeley, Temuera Morrison, Steve Railsback and cult star Udo Kier who is easily the best thing here. Its actually funny watching all the male actors in this movie because I swear they're all doing their best manly swagger acting to try and impress Anderson, like moths to a light, not that I blame them. Berkeley especially seems to be trying some kind of Clint Eastwood impersonation half the time, the quickfire one-liners really don't help him either, its all very cringeworthy at times. Gotta admit Railsback is actually quite good as the Nazi-esque leader with his stormtroopers, clearly enjoyed chewing up the scenery with his evil snarls. Things do go downhill towards the end I must say, all the stereotypical, steamy, neon lit bar/club scenes with goth rock chicks and bondage clad females was pretty darn sweet at the start. As the film climaxes it all gets too silly with stupid shoot-outs, a car chase and somehow all the characters ending up fighting at the top of a massive crane...can you guess how it might end? I'll be honest its not terrible, I've seen much worse, at least this film knows its a silly booty-fest for males to leer at and doesn't try to be anything else. In that sense the film does work, its lives up to expectations and gives you exactly what a comic/graphic novel would (in some cases), overblown violence and ass. Lets be brutally honest here, Anderson might not be the best actress but she certainly looks the part of a hardcore badass femme fatale, can't deny her that. Much like 'Tank Girl' at no point was this movie ever really going for gold, you know what you're gonna get from it so you know what to expect. Being a fan of the source material might help but in general this was simply a movie for blokes to get hard watching Pammy Anderson kick ass in tight revealing attire, mission accomplished movie.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

Barb Wire is just an excuse for studio executives to fill their wallets by casting Pamela Anderson (who was still big back then) in a film that has little substance. Barb Wire is a terrible attempt at an action film and is definitely one of the worst action films that I've ever seen. The film has some of the worst acting possible. Based on a comic book, Barb Wire takes place in the future where the U.S government has fallen and a Fascist military dictatorship has taken over. Barb Wire's plot is pretty thin with poor development. Pamela Anderson is definitely no actress and this film proves it. The only thing that's going for this film is that the film looks great. The sets are awesome and the look of Steel Harbor is wonderful. Unfortunately, that doesn't redeem the film from being a terrible miscalculation. I despised this film, and thought it had nothing interesting to offer the viewer. Barb Wire is a mess, and doesn't work as an effective action film. This is one awful film that just doesn't cut it. The film is sloppy and it plays out like a bad B movie. There are no redeeming aspects of this film. Pamela Anderson is a has been sex goddess and with a role like Barb Wire, studio executives knew how to exploit that to their advantage. Unfortunately, Barb Wire is a piece of trash with nothing going for it. The plot is paper thin, and is virtually nonexistent. Barb Wire is a definite miss!

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer


I didn't see the whole movie.....cause it was so fucking bad

Martin Sahlin
Martin Sahlin

Super Reviewer

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