Based on actual events, Life on the Line follows a crew of men who do high-wire work, fixing and maintaining the electrical grid in the USA. We join them first via interview format, and then follow along as a huge storm approaches, and each must put aside their many personal issues to save the national grid, save lives, and restore power.
Being a wireman is a dangerous job. One which few outsiders know much about, and one where each man is a brother to that man next to him. Being a wireman is a job where one mistake, a split-second lack of concentration, or the slightest deviation from procedure can lead to death.
Beau (John Travolta) is one such wireman. At home he looks after his niece Bailey (Kate Bosworth). Bailey is dating Duncan (Devon Sawa) who has just joined Beau’s crew as a wireman. So while the film is a bit slow to get to the actual main issue of the storm and power grid issues, leaning more towards a drama with some romance, we are treated to a lot of family and friend issues as there are relationships made, and destroyed, friendships tested, and professional ethics put to the test.
Don’t expect all out hero action from Life on the Line. It takes it’s time to speed up the pace. So while the acting is good, the story drags a bit in places, opting to bring all the background family matters into the fray. Viewers expecting a fast paced action might be a little disappointed.
Life on the Line does what it sets out to do though. It is a faithful portrayal of the hard work and sacrifice of the wiremen of the USA. A raw account of what they mean to the country, and a look behind the curtain at their oft negatively affected home lives. A film for a slow, lazy day.
Overall, the technical aspect of the disc is pretty decent.
Life on the Line is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.
Video is encoded at a high average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on screen for the main feature. The trailers do show a little bit more compression, but rather save this space on a DVD for the main feature.
Colours are vibrant, with no visible bleed. Blacks are deep, and maintain adequate detail in the several darker scenes. Contrast is also pretty decent, with some spark effects showing up a lot brighter than their darker background.
Audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, and encoded at a high average bitrate. Dialogue is clear via the centre speaker, with use of the front left and right speakers being slightly less than what one would expect. The film does make some use of the surrounds, but this is also less than what one would expect. Due to the artistic choice of the film, where there are a few interview scenes, the viewer gets to experience the interviewer, who is off camera, as if they are standing behind the viewer, not visible.
Navigation is simple, with a static main menu, and easy to understand options to play the film or go to a scene selection sub-menu. There is soft background music on the main menu.
The scenes sub-menus comprise of a static background image, background music, and four colour motion thumbnails. There is no chapter heading, so it may be hit-or-miss trying to get to an exact spot in the film.
There are no bonus features on the disc. There are however trailers for Collide, My Father’s War and The 9th Life of Louis Drax.
The trailers can be fast-forwarded, or individually skipped.
“Life on the Line” from the movie, performed by Fiona Culley, featuring Darius Rucker.