Life On The Line
John Travolta, Kate Bosworth
…becomes bogged down by its own politics…
Life On The Line is a blue collar hymn, in line with The Perfect Storm, dedicated to the hard working Americans known as linesmen. Backed by the real life charity, Linesmen Foundation, it tries to provide a voice to the unsung hero of America’s grid system. These are the men whose hard labour to keep the country powered with electricity is classed as one of the deadliest jobs in America. Indeed, the end credits of Life On The Line even throw out a statistic on the number of men who died whilst the film was being made. And it’s staggering.
Obviously then, there’s a worthy cause behind this film, which sees John Travolta play Beau, a Hell’s Angel turned linesman trying to get the grid upgraded in his hometown before a severe storm hits and causes a massive blackout. There’s a personal touch to his tenacity for getting the job done: Beau witnessed the death of his brother and sister-in-law due to a similar storm, and he now has custody of his niece, Bailey (Kate Bosworth). Whilst the film doesn’t really do anything special with the motif of man vs nature, the relationship between Beau and Bailey is at least one of the few highlights, with the two actors providing a warm and natural relationship.
Outside of this dynamic though, Life On The Line becomes bogged down by its own politics as it strays away from the plight of the linesman to focus on a subplot featuring suicide, extramarital affairs, and the Iraq war. It’s unnecessary and overwrought, and there’s an extremely uneasy scene with a bored housewife who flirts with men behind her husband’s back, and is “punished” by being sexually assaulted. It’s just one of several moments in the film that suggest you’re being preached to on morality, rather than waving the flag for an overlooked and dangerous career.