in her line of fire

2005

Directed: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Written: Anna Lorenzo and Paula Goldberg

Remember how many of those weird action movie kisses we've witnessed over the years? You know, the ones where the hero and the heroine, after surviving hell, suddenly turn to each other and smooch while covered in mud or dirt or sweat or blood or goop or whatever it was they were fighting in or against? Have you ever wished that, just for once, the women would suddenly turn to each other and smooch, leaving the macho hero high and dry? Well if that appeals to you, the day you get hold of a copy of In Her Line of Fire will be your lucky day.

Of course, along with that crazy, completely inappropriate smooching scene comes the tacky action sequences, the cringeworthy dialogue and the over-the-top, caricatured bad guy. Yep, you have to take the whole package, it's all or nothing. However, a lot like Imagine Me and You did with the romantic comedy genre, In Her Line of Fire proves one thing once and for all: that tacky action filmmaking is no longer strictly a heterosexual realm. That in itself is worth a couple of stars.

Secret Service Agent Lynn Delaney (Mariel Hemingway, looking suitably butch and well-muscled) once served with marine corps in the Gulf war. Coincidentally, back then she buddied up with the guy who is now the Vice President, and she now heads up his secret service detail. The Vice President (David Keith) is flying to the Pacific for a diplomatic tour when the plane gets caught in a storm and goes down, killing everyone on board except for a select few; the Vice President and his aides. Gradually, in what feels a little like an overly-violent episode of Survivor, the film whittles the cast down to the final three; the VP, Delaney and a beautiful reporter named Sharon Serrano (played with feeling by out lesbian actress Jill Bennett).

As if surviving a plane crash weren't difficult enough, we find out that the island is under the control of a bunch of mercenaries and political rebels, all armed to the teeth and shooting to kill. Thanks to a briefcase full of important papers, the rebels discover early on who their fugitive is, and they set out to capture the VP alive to make some money from ransoming him to an anti-American nation.

The chase is on. They pass by a stream, go up a hill, through a pipe, through some trees, and then proceed to run through the exact setting over and over until I can almost recognise each individual blade of grass on the obviously very small island. They drive jeeps and ride motorcycles against some truly terrible green screen photography. They get captured, escape, captured again, escape... until finally Delaney is left on her own to rescue her best buddy the VP and this oddly distracting reporter who she's falling more madly in love with every second. As you do.

In the meantime, the world's worst-written and inept rescue force (otherwise known as the US Navy, complete with stock aircraft carrier footage that I'm sure I've seen in three different films and an episode of JAG) continues to search for the poor trio. I'm glad the good guys on the island realised early on that they'd have to rescue themselves because the cavalry spend a lot of time flying around not really getting anywhere, sending back really horrible reports to the president, including one particularly precious moment where they all, longfaced, declare that maybe they can get the Vice President's body back, and wouldn't that be something. I laughed until I cried, and then laughed a bit more. I'm pretty sure it wasn't meant to be quite that funny, but the level of woodenness in the acting in these scenes was downright hysterical.

Unfortunately, there really is no sexual tension between the two women. The only reason we know there's supposed to be sexual tension between them is that the film tells us so. The two women talk to other characters and tell us that there's tension between them. They even use the phrase "sexual tension" at one point. But of course, Serrano has to quit being such a cry baby and Delaney has to stop being such a militant hardass before anything can truly happen between them. Luckily for us, they figure out their differences just before the credits roll, forcing us to wait right until the end before we get to the good stuff.

Even in terms of TV movies, this one is pretty sub-standard. I will give it some points for effort. Personally I had to buy it just because Mariel Hemingway was playing a gun-toting lesbian. In fact, Hemingway scores kudos just for the fact that she kept a straight face long enough to record any usable footage. Some of her dialogue really was off-the-charts bad. I really hope that this doesn't mean that women are incapable of writing military-themed movies. Some day, sometime, I hope to see the film where the gun-toting lesbian gets the girl AND some decent lines. Unfortunately, with this one, even the title is derivative.

By all means give this a go if you happen to have a couple of hours to kill and it is the only thing on TV. Fans of Mariel Hemingway might even benefit from putting in some effort to track it down. I'm still amused enough at the novelty value of happy endings involving smooching women to get a kick out of that alone, but that's just me. I don't think the girl getting the girl at the end is necessarily enough payoff for watching this film, unless of course you're a huge fan of Hemingway, Bennett or the "miltary types kill anything that moves" action genre.

Note: A quick warning to Australian viewers. Buying or renting this DVD in Australia gets you a version with all the lesbian references hastily edited out. Since the smooching is the only reason to watch this film, you might want to find yourself an American version.

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