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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
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.
I was quite surprised that Massive Attack's Angel was chosen to
accompany the opening credits, which consisted for mostly CCTV /
voyeuristic shots of a team conducting surveillance on the movements of
Harrison Ford's Jack Stanfield and his family. I know it's a cool
track, but Angel is perhaps becoming one of the more overused tracks in
Hollywood pictures already.
But it hints well at what Firewall is going to become. Cliché and overused sequences which will probably make you scream "haven't I seen this somewhere before"? Firewall offered nothing very new in terms of plot outline, as it contains modified scenes from even Ford's own works like Air Force One (the family's survival being threatened, and it's up to one man to save the day) and The Fugitive (the frame up and one man's run from the law). Ford has already become comfortable in the role of an all-American one man hero, that this role offered no surprises at all.
It's basically standard fare with the usual chases and action fight sequences. Stansfield is a VP of (network) security of a bank, and has designed the bank's software, with other operational duties like making sure the bank can respond to external online threats. However, as the saying goes, almost 80% of intrusion are committed knowingly or unknowingly from the inside, and with a head honcho part of the act, you can be sure that he has the know-how to siphon out cash if he wants to.
In comes Bill Cox (Paul Bettany), scheming con man, who with his team of merry men, take Stanfield's family hostage and lapses into the usual psycho-mumbo-jumbo routine. With the family's antics at escaping, you really wonder if Cox, as a villain, has what it takes to call the shots in a hostage situation. While he might have the upper hand, it's his weakness in being ruthless to the hostages that proved his downfall, and make him a very weak cinematic villain. Here's someone who would rather shoot at his own men than to teach them hostages a lesson. Probably he has this noble subscription to "women and children first". And it doesn't help when there's the usual good guy amongst his merry men who offers the family sympathy points.
Word of caution though, for those who might think that this film offers some cool technology on screen. Leave the techno-babble at the door, there's no "firewall" to hack into in the first place, and the "hacking" is actually a no-brainer. And unless the USA offers wireless internet access like everywhere, it's pretty incredible with what a laptop can do in the movie.
It has your expected twists and seemingly smart moments, but nothing that will truly make you go "wow". The fist fight choreography can get pretty intense, however, there's no need to reach the end of the road before you know who's gonna emerge tops. It isn't exactly a bad movie, but one which doesn't even have a single sequence that can redeem this picture from really bad mediocrity.
Went to watch Firewall today. Honestly, inspite of having read a
detailed description of the movie I didn't expect much. However, being
a fan of Harrison Ford, I decided to give it a shot.
The storyline isn't spectacular or out of the ordinary, so that won't be something you would want to watch the movie for.
What initially interested me was the entire computer security angle. Turned out to be a disappointment as I found the movie to be less on computer security and more of action and drama.
Harrison Ford has been in the movie business for around twenty years (read grown old) and so he fit into the character of Jack Stanfield perfectly. He is well backed by Paul Bettany (who excels in this role) and Virginia Madsen (who plays his wife).
Besides these three, there isn't much acting by the other characters. Some do play substantial roles but being sidekicks don't gather much attention to them.
But, I will be honest to point out that the storyline turned out to be really interesting in the second half. Well, it didn't diverge from the existing theme but Paul's entire plan makes it interesting and makes you appreciate its ingenuity.
One spectacular scene was the fight in the end. I say spectacular because it didn't appear artificial as can be seen in a lot of fights in a lot of movies. This was a fight of a civilian fighting back in desperation.
Enough said. Watch it for Harrison Ford. Watch it for Paul Bettany.
First off Harrison Ford is still capable of playing these roles, he
certainly did not come off as unbelievable for the most part.
The first hour or so of the movie is top notch and plays out exactly as any good action film should, the bad guys outmaneuvering the good guy at every turn so the audience hates them even more.
Unfortunately the second half of the movie is nowhere near as strong and I believe part of this is because Paul Bettany just does not play a convincing bad ass. He's a good actor, don't get me wrong, but he's far too lenient and soft compared to similar characters from other action movies. There is a scene where Ford and family attempt an escape, only to be foiled by their captors. Following this, Bettany does respond with a nasty act, but I kept expecting him to shoot (non-fatally) one of the family members or beat them with a club or other blunt object. There were also some logic issues that bugged me, but I won't get into them here as I do not want to spoil the film for those who haven't seen it.
Despite what I mentioned above, I found the movie to be well worth the cost of admission and a fun way to spend two hours.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Harrison Ford seems to be a guy who likes to play these kind of
everydayman-superhero characters. Sometimes they are really good,
entertaining films and sometimes they are insultingly stupid. This is
case of the latter.
In a nutshell, "Jack Stanfield" (Ford), a bank executive, and his family are held hostage by "Bill Cox" (Paul Bettany) and his group of thugs. They demand he rob $100 million out of accounts through computer hacking, which only he could successfully accomplish.
Along the way we get a number of Hollywood clichés, such as 1 - Ford turning into Rambo-Superman and not only outwitting everyone involved but beating up most of the crooks; 2 - An ending where he does fight the main bad guy who is half his age, takes a beating that would render a human being unconscious at least six times bur Ford keeps going until he wins; 3 - the usual obnoxious kids including a 12-year-old boy who is not the least bit scared, which is ludicrous; 4 - the crooks not killing any of the family, even the dog - which they take with them and is instrumental in saving the family! Yes, these criminals only shoot themselves, never their opponents!! Are you kidding? I could go on with 5, 6, 7, 8, etc., but suffice to say, there are just too many holes in here to make this anything but a film you shake your head at as being ridiculous.
It's almost as believable as playing the President of the U.S. and totally disarming a group of terrorists on an airplane by yourself! Oops, Harrison's been there-done that, too.
In the end - a film that starts out promising but gets dumb and dumber as it goes along.
As someone with an interest in computers, I was looking forward to the
release of this movie for quite a while. Seeing Harrsion Ford in the
cast of a movie typically guarantees at least a minimum standard of
quality. I couldn't help feeling somewhat underwhelmed by it's
The movie has some positive points that I should highlight first. I had hoped a movie titled "Firewall" would portray accurate use of technology where other computer genre movies such as "Hackers" missed the boat. And for the most part it does, we see VPN, unix terminals, and other real technology set up to deliver what could have been an intriguing story about a techno-heist. There are a few glaring flaws, but generally accurate enough to draw me into a believable and entertaining story.
If the movie had kept with the technology theme for the remainder of it's run, I think it could have been a hit (at least with the IT sect). But it devolves into another mindless chase movie.
If they had fixed the bugs and not applied the 'action flick' patch, this film might have staved off obsolence and had a place in the server room.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Some big spoilers coming......
Let me start with I have been a HUGE fan of Harrison Ford's most of my life but I have been dreading this one - especially after the bad Hollywood Homicide. I just never thought I would leave the theater laughing at one of his films!
I expected the usual sneering, "leave my family alone" performance and I got it, but with each film he makes he just looks worse and the acting gets just a bit hammier. There is also this plot - with holes you can drive a truck through - starting with the "mastermind" criminals. Yes, they are thorough - they staked out Harrison's house, know the family's routines, planned and executed a perfect home invasion - it's all quite smooth until....THE PHONE RINGS! No one knows what to do when the kid answers that dreaded telephone so they all flip out, point weapons and look scared. Unbelievable.
Then there is the bank heist - again these seemingly prepared criminals somehow overlooked the fact that Harrison's bank just completed a merger. Oops - the computer terminal needed to actually steal the money is now gone and housed in Wisconsin at the new bank headquarters. In true Macguyver style, Harrison still manages to steal the dough using part of a fax machine and his daughter's iPod!
The exposition in this film is so obvious - like the family dog who appears in the beginning of the film and is gone again until about 1/3 through when the mom seemingly needlessly points out the dog's special GPS tracking collar. The son tries to remove it and the mom tells him not to - even though they are held captive in their own home and I'm not sure how the dog would run away to need a GPS tracker anyway. But of course this bit of exposition sure does pay off in the end when the kidnappers take off with family in tow. Harrison overhears the dog barking during a cell phone call. Yes, these evil thugs would give a peanut butter cookie to a peanut allergic boy but they are not so heartless as to leave the family pet behind while abducting the family cross country!
So, in his desperate attempt to reclaim his family from these brutes, he breaks into the home of the secretary he had recently fired and convinces her to assist him in his quest to rescue his loved ones. Conveniently they have a laptop along for the ride and Washington State has such a strong wi-fi computer signal that they can track that GPS tracker on the dog practically to the kidnappers doorstep IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!
A very physical battle ensues between 65 year old Ford and a man half his age but Indiana Jones triumphed again and his family was saved. Unfortunately Virgina Madsen is totally wasted in her follow up to Sideways and Paul Bettany puts in a pretty standard bad guy performance.
If you are a big HF fan then you need to see this but it was hard to watch him try to keep up his action hero persona as he actually stumbles and falls in some of the scenes. I am not sure if this was intended but it made me wince. I wish he could do another film like Witness and be a little more picky about the scripts he chooses.
Just my 2 cents for all that is worth!
I saw that 'Firewall' was coming on TV a couple of nights ago and
wanted to catch Harrison Ford in action, as I'm a huge fan of his and I
had not seen this. I have to say I was fairly entertained by the film.
The plot is not so much different from the other films of this genre,
but what stands apart from the rest is Harrison Ford's and the
antagonist, Bill Cox's very real performances and some clever twists.
Computer security specialist Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) works for the Seattle-based Landrock Pacific Bank. A trusted top-ranking executive, he has built his career and reputation on designing the most effective anti-theft computer systems in the industry, protecting the bank's financial holdings from the constant threat of increasingly sophisticated internet hackers with his complex network of tracers, access codes and firewalls. His regular life is put into turmoil after his family taken is taken hostage by Bill Cox and his cronies.
Even though most of the story was predictable, that doesn't mean it wasn't entertaining. It has everything you can ask - big explosions, smart thinking actors, great acting (only by Harrison Ford and Paul Bettany). Cox played by Paul Bettany was very unnerving as the calm, cold, collected and clever villain. He was ruthless in killing his own men to make his point. I mean that is fairly common in this genre, still it was pretty good. Jack's repeated attempts to try and save his family along with the money was good to see. You could look at his eyes and you can see how much he loves his family and how scared he is for them and really wants their safety more than anything. The little kid, Andy with the allergy and Jack's secretary, Janet Stone played by Mary Lynn Rajkub are also very good. The climax with the burning car was not so believable. But even so, this is a more than average thriller that you would want to see. A rating of 5.6 on IMDb? I am shocked. Come on people, this is so much better than that. I really enjoyed the movie immensely.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you're a die-hard Harrison Ford fan, you may be entertained by this movie. I found it hard to pay attention to what little was going on plot-wise and instead was distracted by the incessant rain, the gorgeous house built on an ocean cliff, and wondering why Ford's assistant was paid so poorly that she drove a wreck and lived in a dump. Moreover, since she was paid so poorly (and he had just unceremoniously fired her) why did she risk life and limb to help him? The film had very little humour, minimal suspense and one nasty fight scene at the end. The final shot was cheesy to the max. Harrison, you can do better than this.
The movie was better than I thought it would be. I really enjoyed it. Seeing Harrison Ford back in action was an added bonus. He can definitely still bring it. It was great to see him back on the big screen as feisty as ever still kicking butt. The villain was played by Paul Bettany who is always brilliant when playing a dirty rotten scoundrel. I didn't realize how tall he (Paul) is until this movie, (he is a good inch taller than Harrison Ford, who is over 6 ft) The film was a bit slow in parts, but the ending makes up for it. I wouldn't suggest taking small children as it is a bit violent for its PG-13 rating. There are also a couple funny / cute moments that were really well played. If you are a Harrison Ford fan, you won't want to miss Firewall.
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