Inept writing all around makes this film an insult rather than homage to the real men who call this line of work a career.
“LIFE ON THE LINE” stars John Travolta as a line-man in Texas who is struggling to forget his past while he rebuilds a massive network of power-lines. Under pressure from his superiors to complete the job they work long hours to get it done and one night get stuck in a massive storm that will threaten all their lives.
So I didn’t have the highest of hopes for this film. John Travolta is at a point in his career where he has been relegated to the straight to digital releases but this didn’t lead me to immediately think the film would be horrible. Add familiar names like Sharon Stone, Kate Bosworth and Gill Bellows to the cast and it appeared this had the possibility of being a solid B-Movie.
Well, call this another case of being fooled by names on paper when I should have known better because this was a poorly executed film and once it’s establishing this film is meant to pay respect to the real men who work this job, it felt like an insult.
The characters in this movie are horribly conceived, extremely stereotypical, not likable at all and do things that are clearly there to force an emotional pull the writers couldn’t develop naturally. There are a few lazily delivered sub-plots in this script, none land with impact, they all feel cliche and many are forced into the script to simply guide the direction of the melodramatic tones the filmmakers wanted.
Sharon Stone and Gil Bellows are completely wasted. They give decent performances in a story so bad they deliver no impact, which was unfortunate. Stone played a solid, dramatic persona in this film that was worthless, and only added a couple of relatively interesting scenes in an uninteresting film. Kate Bosworth plays a character way out of her age range and while she delivers her lines convincingly, like the rest, her character was poorly developed and clearly just a plot device.
Travolta was not horrible in this one but he wasn’t good. He delivers the material just fine, has a couple solid scenes but for the most part he was simply doing a fine job of delivering horrible material and did nothing to make the most out of it.
It was shocking to me to learn this film was supposed to pay respect to the men who work the lines and take on this dangerous career. There were subtle signs the creators learned a (minimal) amount of information about the career, but took no effort into learning about the men who work the job. Instead we get generalized depictions of blue-collar america and glimpses into the lives of people who lack structure or happiness and it all felt extremely contrived.
“Life on the Line” was shockingly bad in the writing department and conveys a story that was not even on the level of cable television. Don’t be fooled by familiar names in the cast because none are used even close to effectively. There are few moments in this film that don’t feel forced, and in the end this was a waste of time.
Time: 97 min
MPAA Rating: R (For some violence/grisly images and brief strong language)