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With his family held for ransom, the head security executive for a global bank is commanded to loot his own business for millions in order to ensure his wife and children's safety. He then faces the demanding task of thwarting the kidnapper's grand scheme, which makes him look guilty of embezzlement. Written by
Was good the first and second time I saw it... when it was called "Patriot Games" and "The Fugitive"
Take a gray-haired Harrison Ford, place him in a business suit and then have him fight someone conveniently wearing all black, and you'd swear you were watching any number of movies from the last fifteen years. Name Ford's character Jack, and you'd think that would narrow it down to a good one. Then again you could just be suckered into seeing "Firewall" which borrows and doesn't add from the Ford post-Jones collection.
In a play-it-safe campaign to show the world that he isn't too old, Harrison Ford is pushed into "Firewall". It's been fourteen years since, "Patriot Games", in which Ford played a man that seemed over the hill then, and here he is today in the same situations. To jog your memory, Ford has been making a living playing essentially the same character in similar situations for years, thanks to the aforementioned "Patriot Games", "The Fugitive", and "Air Force One".
"Firewall", directed by Richard Loncraine, concerns the tale of Jack Stanfield, played by Harrison Ford, being forced through the methods of Bill Cox (Paul Bettany), into electronically stealing from the bank he keeps hackers out of on a daily basis. Cox has a bargaining chip, the Stanfield family. Eventually Cox and his team baby-sit the hostages and circumvent there own success. Jack then hunts them down, and none of this comes as a surprise due to the formulaic structure of the picture.
Some may find "Firewall" a difficult film to dislike because it plays all the clichés. It isn't artistic but rather commercial film-making. Borrowing from every film mentioned above, it uses elements from what worked and safely combines them in a coherent, yet unexciting manner. The action scenes don't come till the end of the picture, and those five minutes offer little more than stunt work put on by actors half Ford's age. This is a vehicle for Ford and as the audience we are supposed to subconsciously see this as a practice run at a fourth Indiana Jones film. With such blatant disregard for a plot and even unique action, you can view this movie as the precursor to "Indiana Jones and the Gated Community".
There is an element that seems realistic and that is the acceptable number of henchmen who are employed by the leader. If they are trying to steal money, then having less people to divvy up the bounty would result in a greater payday. Cox has a modest four men working with him. Unfortunate for both him and the viewer, their lack of common sense is staggering. For example, the family dog Rusty, plays a prominent role when the bumbling fools take him hostage. There should be a logical reason for taking Rusty. With his family already held captive in an unknown locale; I'm sure Jack Stanfield was ready to walk away from them and start a new life. But wait, Rusty is missing too, now I have to comply with their demands. This ultimately destroys the credibility of the screenplay.
Performances in the film are convincing. Virginia Madsen is good as the relaxed wife considering the situation her character is put through. My favorite role was of Paul Bettany as a sometimes caring villain that flips a mean pancake. Despite this, director Richard Loncraine has crafted a film that is best described as what a computer would spit out if the command was: thriller. Everything functions to drive the story on its merry way. Lacking character nuances, rich emotions, and beautiful scenery is OK for a suspense film about robbing a bank. Where "Firewall" betrays the genre is in not providing twists, originality, or an intriguing story.
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