Life on the Line
By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Earnest but cliché-filled drama has violence, swearing.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Aims to pay tribute to people who risk their lives in dangerous situations to keep everyone safe and make sure everyone has power. At the end, information is offered on an organization called Fallen Linemen, which helps out the families of men who died on the job.
Positive Role Models
Beau often acts in a very selfless way and is largely concerned with helping others. He even defuses a potential bar fight in one scene. But he learned these lessons through several failures (shown in flashbacks). Other characters aren't fleshed out enough to be role models.
Violence & Scariness
Characters are killed. A character is hit by lighting and falls from a height. Brutal car crash, blood on glass. Train crash. General fire and destruction. Guns fired, characters shot and killed. Gory photos of electrocuted linemen. War flashbacks, sounds of war and violence. Parking lot fight, with punching, kicking, head-bashing. Men behave in threatening ways toward women; a man tries to rape a woman.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Use of "motherf----r," uses of "s--t," "ass," "dumbass," "hell," "damn," "goddamn," as well as "Jesus" and "Jesus Christ almighty" (as exclamations).
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Harley Davidson motorcycles shown/mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A secondary character is an alcoholic and is shown drinking, drunk, hiding bottles, etc. Characters frequently drink beer, wine, and whisky in bars or at home.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Life on the Line is a drama starring John Travolta about electrical linemen in Texas. It's very earnest and well-meaning, but it's also full of cliches and soap-opera twists and isn't for every taste. Plus, the violence is strong, with guns and shooting, attempted rape, deaths, fighting, crashes, and general destruction. Language is also fairly salty, with uses of "motherf----r," "s--t," and more. One character is an alcoholic who's shown drinking, drunk, hiding bottles, etc.; other characters are frequently shown drinking in bars or at home. Characters kiss.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Life on the Line
There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.
What's the Story?
In LIFE ON THE LINE, a group of Texas men work the dangerous job of maintaining the electrical grid. One rainy night, Beau (John Travolta) sees his brother die in a terrible accident, and he takes on the task of raising his young niece, Bailey. Years later, Bailey (Kate Bosworth) is grown up and preparing to head for college. Bailey's ex-boyfriend, Duncan (Devon Sawa), is hired on the line crew for a huge retrofit, which must be completed before a looming deadline -- and before a massive storm hits. Beau doesn't trust Duncan and doesn't think he's good for Bailey. Meanwhile, another lineman (Ryan Robbins), a war veteran with untreated PTSD, seems to be increasingly unstable, and a local man with a crush on Bailey starts stalking her. Can the crew survive this tense time?
Is It Any Good?
The filmmakers behind this earnest, heartfelt drama truly want to honor the brave men who do this job, but the movie is packed with cliches and doesn't really grasp the details of hard work. The screenplay relies on soap opera mechanics, with characters behaving in certain specific, rigid ways designed to move the plot forward; they're never allowed to emerge as characters. Not to mention that the plot itself is so weary and shopworn that it's not hard to guess what's coming as the movie slogs forward.
And, in all this, the point of the lineman -- understanding his work -- is more or less lost; we see images of men climbing poles and attaching clamps to things, but that's about it. Underneath yet another batch of bizarre facial hair, Travolta manages to find some kind of weary, inner life to his character. And in a small role as an alcoholic, Sharon Stone proves she still has onscreen electricity. But otherwise, Life on the Line is as dead as a downed power line.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Life on the Line's violence. How much of it is necessary to tell the story? Which scenes are shocking? Why?
How does the movie portray drinking and alcoholism? Does it judge the alcoholic character?
What other movies about specific jobs can you think of? How does this one compare to them?
- In theaters: November 18, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 7, 2017
- Cast: John Travolta, Kate Bosworth, Devon Sawa
- Director: David Hackl
- Studio: Lionsgate Premiere
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some violence/grisly images and brief strong language
- Last updated: April 5, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Drama Movies That Tug at the Heartstrings
Movies That Inspire Courage
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate