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David Hackl
John Travolta, Kate Bosworth, Devon Sawa
Writing Credits:
Primo Brown, Marvin Peart, Peter I. Horton

A crew of men who do the high-wire work of fixing the electrical grid are hit by a sudden deadly storm.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $24.99
Release Date: 2/7/2017

• “Behind the Scenes” Featurette
• Music Video
• Previews and Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Life On the Line [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 7, 2017)

A tale of survival among public utility workers, 2016’s Life On the Line takes us to rural Texas. There we meet Beau Ginner (John Travolta), an electrical lineman who took in his niece Bailey (Kate Bosworth) when her parents died in 1999. Bailey dates another lineman named Duncan (Devon Sawa), a fact that displeases Beau because he views Duncan’s family with disapproval.

These matters brew under the surface as calamity heads toward Beau and the others. Beau, Duncan and company need to upgrade the lines before storm season hits, a task that puts them in harm’s way.

Back in the 1970s, Travolta became a huge star due to two breakout hits: 1977’s Saturday Night Fever and 1978’s Grease. After that, he largely frittered away his success with a series of poor movies.

Travolta managed a major comeback with 1994’s Pulp Fiction, and that catapulted him back to “A”-level status – for a while, at least. Once again, Travolta’s instincts failed him, as a mix of bad films saw his star plummet anew.

Will Travolta summon another comeback? Possibly, though his advancing age makes this less likely – not a lot of actors re-enter “A”-list territory in their 60s.

If Travolta does find a way to re-engage the viewing public, he’ll have to do so without Line. A feeble attempt at an action movie, Line flails from one scene to another without much coherence.

Really, a flick such as Line doesn’t need to do a lot to satisfy the audience. A tale like this should provide moderately engaging characters and a surfeit of dynamic thrill sequences – that would be enough to do the trick.

Unfortunately, Line comes heavy on melodrama and light on thrills. The end result bores a lot more than it stimulates.

One fatal flaw comes from the amount of time it takes for Line to generate any potential excitement. With subtitles such as “5 Days Until the Storm”, the film constantly teases us with the promise of disaster to come – and eventually it does.

Most viewers will have nodded off by the time calamity hits, however, as Line takes more than an hour (!) before the violent weather finally arrives, and it does virtually nothing to engage the audience during the long lead-up. Sure, we get to know Beau, Bailey, Duncan and a mix of others, but we don’t feel like they ever become more than cardboard cutouts.

Line makes no efforts to invest in believable characters. From Beau to Bailey to everyone else all down the line, each and every role feels one-dimensional and thin. These roles lean “soap opera” and fail to create viewer interest.

The film really does like its melodrama. Again, we don’t need a lot of character dimensionality for a movie such as this – a little exposition works fine, as the threats to the linemen should be enough to prompt our interest.

Instead, Line appears to fashion itself as a character drama with action flourishes, and that approach flops. Perhaps a better-developed set of personalities would overcome the length of time it takes for us to get to the action sequences, but given the turgid nature of the exposition, this becomes a slow, dull ride.

Once we do finally get to the weather-related theatrics, Line still sputters. While we want to embrace death-defying action, instead we continue to focus on melodramatic character nonsense. The film resolutely, persistently refuses to provide the viewer with the exciting content that the tale promises.

Stuck with all these issues, the actors can’t do anything to elevate the material. Travolta sports one of the cheesiest attempts at a Texas accent on record, and everyone else sleepwalks through their underwritten parts.

Sawa and Bosworth both seem awfully old for their roles. As depicted, both Bailey and Duncan feel like characters in their early 20s, not mid-30s. While the movie semi-attempts to explain away their “advanced ages”, this doesn’t work – the parts would make more sense with younger actors.

That’s a minor complaint in a movie that comes with so many other failings, though. I went into Life On the Line with low expectations and just hoped to find something that gave me a decent Twister-style action flick, but instead, I got a stinker. Dopey and overwrought at every turn, the movie flops.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus D

Life On the Line appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image seemed good but not great.

Overall sharpness seemed fine, though occasionally lacking. In particular, interiors could seem a little on the soft side. Still, overall clarity was fine. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. Source flaws were absent, as the movie looked clean.

Like most films of this sort, Line gave us a teal/orange-tinted palette. Within those parameters, the hues were positive. Blacks seemed deep and dark, while shadows showed good smoothness and clarity. Most of the movie offered positive visuals.

As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Line, it came to life at times, but it lacked the level of ambition I expected. With a story of a battle against the elements, I figured Line would come with a consistently kick-butt mix, but the fact the movie spent so much time on character melodrama reduced its potential.

This meant the film’s first hour remained somewhat low-key. It gave us occasional spikes of lively audio with teases related to natural disasters, but these didn’t do a whole lot. Much of that initial hour focused on music and general atmospheric material.

The movie’s final third ramped up the sonic action to a better degree, though, and threatened to live up to its potential. Even then, the mix didn’t go crazy, so exciting audio came and went, but the result still gave us some vivid material.

This meant the storm raged around us and various catastrophic events used the five channels well. We found lively moments like a train crash and other big moments. The soundscape could be a little “speaker-specific” at times but still blended well enough to form a good setting for the drama.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music offered good clarity and range, and effects worked well. Those elements showed nice definition and packed a strong low-end rumble when necessary. All of this ended up as a soundtrack that usually did nicely for itself.

Minor extras appear here, and these include a Behind the Scenes featurette. It goes for 16 minutes, 49 seconds and provides comments from producers Philip Glasser and Marvin Peart, executive producer Chad Dubea, director David Hackl, screenwriter Primo Brown, and actors Devon Sawa, Julie Benz, Kate Bosworth, Gil Bellows, and John Travolta.

We learn of the film’s roots and development, story/characters, cast and performances. Very little useful information appears here, as “Scenes” sticks with promotional fluff and not much more.

A music video for “Life On the Line” from Fiona Culley and Darius Rucker comes next. A terribly sappy song, the video does nothing more than mix movie clips with recording studio footage. Skip it.

The disc opens with ads for Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day, Imperium, Heist and I Am Wrath. We also get the trailer for Line.

A sluggish, dull excuse for an action movie, Life On the Line wastes too much time on its boring characters. By the time it finally gets to the potentially exciting parts, the viewer seems likely to have given up hope. The Blu-ray offers generally good picture and audio along with insubstantial bonus materials. Line flops as both action flick and character drama.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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