Bird on a Wire (film)

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Bird on a Wire
Bird on a wire poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Badham
Produced by Rob Cohen
Written by
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Robert Primes
Edited by
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • May 18, 1990 (1990-05-18)
Running time
110 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $138,697,012

Bird on a Wire is a 1990 American action comedy film starring Mel Gibson and Goldie Hawn, directed by John Badham, and shot mainly in British Columbia, Canada.[1] The title refers to the Leonard Cohen song "Bird on the Wire", the alley motorcycle chase scene was filmed in Victoria's Chinatown, in Fan Tan Alley.


Rick Jarmin (Mel Gibson) helped convict a drug-dealing DEA agent named Eugene Sorenson (David Carradine) and was placed in the witness protection program. Fifteen years later his former fiancée Marianne Graves (Goldie Hawn) crosses paths with him at a gas station in Detroit, Michigan. Rick refuses to recognize Marianne, as the witness protection program does not allow contact with people from the witness' previous life. If she recognizes him it may lead to Sorenson finding and killing him.

Sorenson has been let out of the United States penitentiary in fictional Hudolin, Pennsylvania, after serving his sentence, with his partner Albert "Diggs" Diggins (Bill Duke), they are out to kill Rick in order to smooth the passage of their latest deal with drug dealers. Marianne has blown Rick's cover and he makes a frantic call to his relocation officer for a new identity, only to discover that his old contact has retired and is later revealed to have Alzheimer's.

His new contact is Joe Weyburn (Stephen Tobolowsky), a corrupt FBI agent in league with Diggs and Sorenson. Just as Marianne prepares to confront Rick they are surprised by Sorenson and Diggs, who show up at the gas station with guns blazing.

They shoot Rick's kindly old boss at the gas station, pinning the murder on Rick and Marianne, and Rick is shot in the buttocks. A witness sees them and her rental car, a blue BMW, and they are forced to go on the run, which occupies most of the movie, during which they revisit some of Rick's former life-in-hiding, including a beauty salon where he was a star employee, an old flame of a veterinarian who still wants to marry him, who owns an animal farm and operates on the wound in his behind, in her operating room.

Rick and Marianne spend a night in a hotel room, where they later share their feelings and have passionate sex.

The climax of the film takes place the next night in a zoo where Rick used to work and knows his way around, he releases the various large cats and other animals from their cages, and these and crocodiles and piranhas complicate the pitched battle with Sorenson, Diggs and Weyburn, who meet various ends. At the end Rick is suspended over a large cat in a pit and Marianne can't quite reach him, he offers her the extra incentive of marriage and children, which does the trick. To tease her afterwards, he pretends to back out of his promise, but the next scene shows them boating in the Caribbean, and their repartee, and wedding rings, suggest that they have tied the knot.



Bird on a Wire gained a mixed to negative reception.[2][3][4][5] The film holds a 32% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 22 reviews.

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[6]

Box office[edit]

Bird on a Wire debuted at #1 at the box office with $15.3 million[7] and went on to gross over $138.6 million worldwide.


  1. ^ Thompson-Nicola Film Commission Archived 2007-07-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Bird on a Wire". Variety. 1989-12-31. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  3. ^ "Bird on a Wire". Washington Post. 1990-05-18. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  4. ^ "Bird on a Wire". Entertainment Weekly. 1990-05-18. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  5. ^ "Bird on a Wire". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  6. ^ "CinemaScore". 
  7. ^

External links[edit]