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Film / Bird on a Wire

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"You come to Detroit and you rent a Beamer? That's like going to Germany and eating Jimmy Dean sausages!"
Rick Jarmin

Bird on a Wire is a 1990 comedy film starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, directed by John Badham, and shot mainly in British Columbia, Canada. The alley motorcycle chase scene was filmed in Victoria BC's Chinatown, in Fan Tan Alley.

Rick Jarmin (Gibson) is put in witness protection after he helps the FBI bust drug dealer Eugene Sorenson (David Carradine). Fifteen years later, he is living with a new identity as a gas station attendant in Detroit. When his old girlfriend Marianne Graves (Hawn) stops at the gas station and recognizes him, his cover gets blown. The recently released Sorenson finds out, and both Rick and Marianne have to flee across the country with the vengeful Sorenson in hot pursuit.


This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Dutch Angle: The movie makes use of them particularly during action sequences.
  • Fanservice: Both stars exhibit their behinds at different points.
  • Room Disservice: Attempted, but failed thanks to Rick being smart enough to be suspicious.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The zoo in which the final battle takes place. Let's count the ways: 1) Mixing leopards and tigers in the same space. 2) putting chimpanzees and baboons in the same habitat then 3) allowing aforementioned leopards and tigers access to the monkey habitat 4) also, crocodiles and snakes and 5) rickety bridge/ledge that connects with 6) unsecured artificial waterfall that fills artificial lake filled with 6) wholly natural piranhas!
    • At least the rickety bridge was not intended for human use; but it may be dangerous for the animals as well.
  • Shout Out: Fan Tan Alley, where the motorcycle chase takes place, is actually referred to by the pursuers as Fan Tan Alley.
  • Skirts and Ladders: The wind blows Marianne's skirt up as the duo is going up a ladder, displaying her underwear to the audience.
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  • Titled After the Song: The title refers to the Leonard Cohen song "Bird on the Wire".
  • Vancouver Doubling (and Victoria doubling).
  • Witless Protection Program: Rick is not found merely because of his girlfriend, but because his old handler retired and the new one sold him out.
  • Witness Protection: The film starts with Rick's cover being blown by his ex-girlfriend. After 15 years of hiding and several different identities. The title means that if he touches any of his previous lives, he may die like a bird that touches two live wires.


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