The great Scott Mendelson of Forbes posted an article shortly after wanting to embark on this journey. Bird on a Wire The Director: John Badham Stakeout The Stars: May 18, Box Office: Let me back up a bit and give a little personal story about this movie.
That flick was playing way across town, and my pre-license self was still at the mercy of adults with cars. Therefore, if I wanted to see a movie, I had to settle on a closer theater. This was the only movie whoever was involved agreed to see. In those days, however, we had to wait sometimes as long as six months for a movie to hit home video. Yes, it was a cruel and barbaric time. Now, I reluctantly return to Bird on a Wire, which, all these years later, is still no match for cyborgs.
Let me explain the labyrinthine plot right away: The rest is exposition, and not all that interesting. David Carradine ends up murdering the friend, as David Carradine often do see also: Mel enlists in the Witness Protection program, and things seem okay… until Carradine is released from prison.
For some reason, he cannot proceed with a lucrative partnership with a drug lord until Carradine kills Mel. When the movie opens, Mel is working for an older black man that owns a garage in Detroit. Sounds a lot like a popular series of movies Mel made, right? As fate has it, and it always does, Goldie must go to Detroit as part of her soulless corporate gig. Well, at least two states. Bird on a Wire came out at a time when Hollywood was at least minimally obsessed with hippies and their ethos, but they were more concerned with the fallout of that over the decades.
All of that was an unfortunate byproduct of baby boomers running Hollywood, and the silly next generation assumed all that hippie nonsense actually meant something. This was evident in both thoughtful ways Running on Empty and not so thoughtful Rude Awakening, Flashback. Bird on a Wire manages to be neither of those. There is no real reason the movie presents why these characters have to be hippies, or ex-hippies, or any iteration thereof, except that it makes sense for the timeline.
At one point, Mel dances and sings along to Bob Dylan, but the movie constantly throws Aaron Neville slow jams on the soundtrack. Rather, Joan Severance pines for him, forcing Mel to have the indignity of having to pretend to be a gay hairdresser. Considering it was , it could have been worse. In design, it looks like one big room where they let all manner of big cats and monkeys play together in a warped representation of the laws of the jungle.
It looks more like a laser light show than zoos of which you would see in San Diego or the Bronx. Mel used to work there, so he knows the layout, but the movie makes sure to not have him use that advantage in any meaningful way. Goldie was kind of trifling. Bird on a Wire is running on Starz and Encore right now.