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One Too Many Of These Kind Of Roles For Ford
ccthemovieman-115 January 2007
Warning: 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.
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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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A Nutshell Review: Firewall
DICK STEEL15 April 2006
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.
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Watch it for Harrison Ford, Watch it for Paul Bettany
ajaydsouza26 February 2006
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.
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One of the better thrillers out there
Girish Gowda2 May 2010
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.

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Solid thriller despite being mostly unremarkable stuff
bob the moo11 September 2008
Jack Stanfield may be an old man but he has a young wife, couple of young kids AND is pretty hot on the old computers, working as he does as head of systems security for a small bank chain that has recently merged with a larger firm. His comfortable life is thrown into disarray when a group of armed men led by the distinguished and cruel Bill Cox seize his house and his family. The deal is simple – unless he helps them transfer millions of pounds from many of the banks accounts by accessing the system, they will kill his family one at a time. Given that none of the men are masked, Jack suspects that this will happen anyway and, while going along with them, frantically tries to work out a way to safety.

This film did reasonable but unspectacular business at the box office and perhaps that is only fair given that is also a very adequate on the film itself as it is solid but nothing special at all. The plot is a bit of the problem as the computer world and the house both act as constraining factors that do not allow for a great number of set pieces to get the heart racing. Nor does it provide much in the way of mystery although it is clever enough to provide distraction and a general sense of peril. Much of this comes from the performances though, which despite not being brilliant are at least functional for this film. I didn't need a fourth Indiana Jones film to tell me Ford was getting old, because he demonstrates it here with an absurd fight scene at the end. Up till then though he is not actually too bad and age doesn't prevent him from doing anything in particular. Bettany is pretty good alongside him and plays a bit of a cookie-cutter character with a bit of class. Madsen is lumbered with the "wife in peril" role but fills it well (better than the two kids anyway). The support cast features very minor turns from faces such as Forster, Patrick, Arkin, Rajskub and a few others of note – not sure what attracted them but they add a bit of class to the film anyway.

Ultimately director Loncraine cannot make the most of all these bits and, while doing a good job, he doesn't really ever get the tension ratcheted up to the level of any of the many better "normal guy in peril" type roles that Ford has done over the last few decades. It is "OK" but I was a bit disappointed that he didn't manage to make the house feel "smaller" with the gang in it, or that he never really got anything crackling between Bettany and Ford. It is a reasonable film nonetheless and it distracted me but only that – it will certainly fade in my memory quickly and certainly doesn't do anything for Ford other than keeping him busy.
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Terrific first half, disappointing ending.
canadasbest27 February 2006
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.
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A Forgettable Popcorn Flick
schaden freude15 June 2006
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 progression.

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.
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oh man....
poes-223 February 2006
Warning: 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!
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Firewall: Very Entertaining
stormycloud3424 February 2006
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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Disappointing, even though my expectations were not overly high
marqueemiss26 February 2006
Warning: 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.
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Not terrible...
Tbird2322 February 2006
Overall, an enjoyable movie, until the end when it felt like the director got sick of the movie and said "that's a wrap. everyone leave".

Fortunately, they didn't go overboard with the usual lousy computer scenes you normally see in a movie. In fact, the whole name of "Firewall" is poorly chosen.

If you're looking for a simple pseudo-thriller that follows the typical script, you'll enjoy this.

If you're looking for more than that, look elsewhere.

I give it a 5 out of 10. Had some enjoyable moments, but like I said, it simply ends poorly.
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Predictable, boring.
ajmacauley17 September 2006
Entirely predictable. Full of clichés. Not even one clever line to alleviate the monotony. Harrison makes another few mill. (yawn) Don't bother.

Shameless product endorsements galore.... "Buy a Dell with Windows XP, they were featured in Harrison's last crap film!!"

It's a shame to see such obvious pandering to a mass audience. The title should have given it away. Firewall? What did this movie have to do with technology? The movie was clichéd, shallow and lacking in creativity, humor or cleverness.

Characters are all one dimensional. It tries, lamely, to suck you in with slick visuals like the nice house, office, cars, etc... then delivers nothing by way of plot that you haven't seen 10,000 times before.

It's a real shame Hollywood makes crap like this so often. I know that sounds elitist, but I'm not. Hollywood keeps going for the sure bet, easy money stuff like this. No creativity whatsoever...
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Couldn't be any Worse!
I'm very upset about the shoddy quality of this movie. It is, without a doubt, the worst that Harrison Ford has ever starred in. Every thing about it is lame, especially the premise itself. This plot (or similar) has been done so many times before that is't tiresome and boring in and of itself. There are two types of movies that I swear from this day forth I will never waste my time watching again. One is the plot where a high school or college basketball coach is enlisted to rejuvenate a losing team, and the other is one in which a CEO or other high level person has their family kidnapped for some kind of favor. We've seen all of these we need. Every subtlety and twist and trick been used, and used again, and overused, so the only possible result for a movie of this theme, if it IS released, is to be boring, predictable, and mundane, which "Firewall" achieves in spades. Please don't waste either your time of money on this disaster.
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Harrison Ford is still an action star
ladymetsjm30 January 2006
I'll have to say. When i first saw the trailer my first thought was "why doesn't this man just give up?". Hollywood Homicide wasn't exactly the greatest. But since my friend had free passes and the star himself was supposed to show up for a Q&A I went. WOW! The movie definitely surpassed my expectations. Harrison ford did an excellent job. The cinematography was fabulous. I enjoyed the way the scenes were shot (trying to find the right words, but can't seem to do it justice). I know some folk are saying the children also did a great job, but, quite frankly Dakota Fanning and Haley Joel Osmet they're not. And there were a few times I wanted to reach into the screen and slap his daughter. But outside of that. I would say great job! Fire the people who did the preview because it doesn't do the movie justice.
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Predictable but watchable
mfsor19 February 2006
This is like "24", it's all phony, but exciting enough so you don't care. You know what Ford is going to do. Having Chloe as his admin assistant even added to the ambiance. The cinematography was very good, and the acting was all standard. It's just, as usual, the bad guy has to have a few idiots working for him to make the story go easier. The dog bit was too much of a ploy to keep the plot moving, totally out of sync with what characters would have done. Bottom line is poor quality of enemies for Ford to deal with, so even though events proceeded apace, they required too much suspension of disbelief for my money. I wouldn't have gone myself, it was just my wife wanted to see it. There was never truly enough of a sense of danger. They should have hurt one of the family more. Even the son's allergy reaction wasn't scary enough. And people would have figured out things at the bank a lot sooner.
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Pretty Average but entertaining nonetheless
jpwhite312 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Plenty of action in this movie to keep you awake, but one doesn't leave the theater with any special feeling like a good movie leaves you with. Hardly thought provoking. It's difficult to 'attach' yourself to any of the characters (well except maybe for the dog). Why the movie is entitled 'Firewall' is mystery to me.

Harrison Ford heads up the 'perfect family'. Successful businessman and husband, good looking wife, son, daughter and a dog. Ford's secretary is one of the main characters from the TV show 24, you know the girl that always looks like she is in pain (and probably is).

There are some problems with the storyline. How for instance did Ford reverse 10,000 thefts of $10,000 from the banks top 10,000 customers with just 4 hand typed commands? The original theft was for 100Million, but apparently only 80 million was stolen and subsequently returned. Why did the cops usher the 'getaway car' away when responding to a bank robbery at the airport, especially since Ford ran to it looking stressed? Not very believable.

My wife liked the movie, so for non techies the inevitable errors are apparently of no consequence. I did like the portrayal of Ford as a very competent technical manager who had his wings clipped as a consequence of an unfriendly merger, very believable, I felt his pain.

None of the good guys got hurt too bad while all the baddies got what was coming to them. The dog was rescued like you'd expect with any 'good movie', all together now.... ahhhhhh.
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Ain't worth watching
Oleg Astakhov11 March 2006
Oh gee, I really hoped this would be one of the movies I like, you know, there are certain types of movies you just like, for example, I like movies about bank robberies, casino robberies, where there are team efforts and careful planning, movie such as AirCon I like too, and simply well done movie without any obvious goofs, or just clumsy scenes. You know, after watching this movie, it feels like Harisson Ford is the only one who actually acted, unlike for example his wife (in a movie that is). The movie was simply unnatural, there were no seriousness, bad actors, I somewhat tried to compare this one with the Die-Hard, but this one is just incomparable, nowhere near as good as Die-Hard is. I'm very disappointed, I barely watched it till the end. Just don't waste your time, please :) Cheers, Oleg
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Ford is Back!
Jason12 February 2006
I was definitely impressed with Firewall. Yes, Harrison Ford has done this type of movie before, but it was great to see him make a quality action/thriller again. Ford proves at 63, he can still do these types of movies. Very entertaining movie overall.

I think it is safe to say that he can still make another Indiana Jones movie, which I hope begins filming after his next movie, Manhunt. He looks great for his age, and I was amazed at the extent of the action sequences that he did. Great performances all around, especially Paul Bettany as the bad guy. Hopefully, Firewall will put to rest all the negative people who claim Ford is done. On the contrary, Harrison Ford is back!
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Harrison Ford is Back!
Brian Henderson8 February 2006
Firewall is an overall highly entertaining movie. Harrison Ford nails the white-collar character of Jack Stanfield, and Paul Bettany plays a believable (yet somehow lovable) bad guy.

The movie is filled with surprising plot twists and a few action sequences that made the audience I was in gasp with emotion. From start to finish, the audience goes back and forth from knowing more than the characters, to being just as confused as the characters. This made the movie all the more entertaining to watch.

Humor was used in many of the parts of the movie, including some laugh out loud scenes between Jack and his secretary. Also, Jack's son and the kidnappers have a few exceptionally funny scenes together.

The acting and entertainment value of this movie deserves an A+. Harrison Ford is back in action and believe me, he is still the man!
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T Y20 February 2006
It's remarkable that there is no end to the machinations that the old plot-driving chestnut; the kidnapped wife and/or kid(s) can put into play. Way too many filmmakers have milked this plot line (Ron Howard, Mel Gibson, Schwartzenggar) to exhaustion, since it's fresh debut in DeathWish (way back in the 1700s) and it's become the action-adventure genre's tiresome, defacto plot line: and judging from the success of these look-alike products, apparently it's the only volition straight audiences can fathom. I wish Hitchcock knew what would follow when he dreamt up this ruse for The Man who knew too Much (1934).

Now in this movie entitled "Harrison Ford Cashes a Paycheck" the actor who has played constipated tight-asses for 20 years throws another one on the fire. It seems that his only requirement for accepting a script is that his character is trying to find his family and wears a suit. Ford has a loooooooooooong, boring resume of playing dull bourgeois men who are attempting to locate their misplaced wives, or prove they didn't kill someone; Presumed Innocent, Frantic, The Fugitive, this. Occasionally when he's stretching artistically a script lets him do both! The result is he has no range and no variety. To spice things up, he's interspersed three or four Republican national defense thrillers. His emotional range is limited to 'angry' and 'slightly more angry.' Yes, we get it already Harrison, you're embarrassed over being an actor after being a construction worker.

It is now time for the makers of "Scary Movie" to make "Harrison Ford Movie" in which for two thrilling hours Ford can't find his family because they're standing directly behind him. It really should include a shot of Harrison Ford taking a dump... while wearing a suit.
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Solid action/adventure: cross between Patriot Games and Fugitive
rajahspam6 February 2006
The movie starts with black-and-white surveillance tapes and fragmented voice-overs: Someone is watching Jack Stanfield. Jack has been working at a Seattle bank and knows his way around IP addresses, bank security, and wire transfers.

Starting with Six Days Seven Nights (1998), Harrison Ford has played some cheesy roles that fizzled. (C'mon. Random Hearts? Hollywood Homicide?) In Firewall, however, Director Richard Loncraine stages some intense scenes between Ford and villain Paul Bettany (who played Geoffrey Chaucer in A Knight's Tale and the Surgeon in Master and Commander).

The pacing of the film feels more like Patriot Games, or my Ford favorite: The Fugitive. The common element is that you see a smart guy trying to save his wife and kids while keeping the bad guys at bay.

Harrison Ford delivers in this enjoyable action/adventure.
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GRMacE28 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In a Saturday morning, PG-13 rated, movie for the kids kind of way, it is harmless enough. It might even make a respectable B picture on a drive-in double bill. However, this is a star vehicle with a large ad campaign hoping to yank first-run money out of you. "Firewall" treats the viewer as a bunch of idiots, is not worthy of its A-list cast, and telegraphs every plot-bend. (Usually I would say plot-turn but that would suggest angles approaching 90 degrees.)

There is nothing here that you haven't seen before in countless better movies. You know the setup by now; a bank security chief (Ford) is coerced by a bad guy (Bettany) into stealing money from said bank in return for his kidnapped wife (Madsen.) Will the crooks get the money? Will Harrison Ford save his wife and kids? Will there be a lot of impediments put in our hero's way that 5 minutes of conversation would solve but won't be because we have to believe that our hero's actions are heroic? Yeah, it is that kind of predictable cliff hanger.

If my comments seem harsh for such a marshmallow, I'm sorry. But let me list a few of the problems:

1 - Virginia Madsen has the sort of part (and turns in the kind of performance) she did before "Sideways." If you find her believable in her first scene with Ford, I have a bridge in Brooklyn available for lease. This may not be her fault but her agent should be shot.

2 - Alan Arkin, Robert Forster, and Robert Patrick (fine actors all) are treated like window dressing and are in this movie only to collect a paycheck and contribute to a pension fund. Anyone with SAG credentials could have been inserted in their parts.

3 -There is a cute dog that none of the heartless kidnappers harm even though it is as irritating as a cell phone.

4 - Harrison Ford did the same movie nine years ago ("Air Force One") with the gravitas to actually make you believe he was the President. ("Get the hell off of my plane!") In this one, you are supposed to believe he is a well-to-do, physically fit, bank geek who lives in a house worthy of Bill Gates. Credible? No.

5 - This movie sets some sort of record for product placements. The producers are shameless. Not only are theaters showing commercials before the movie, now the movie itself is a string of commercials.

6 - There are technology leaps that are as far-fetched as anything you have seen on the TV series "24."

Speaking of "24", one of the bright spots in this movie is the appearance of Mary Lynn Rajskub. Don't recognize the name? She plays computer genius Chloe on "24" and plays, essentially, the same character here. Not a whole lot of additional acting is needed (even her boss is named Jack) but she brings some of the only (intentional) fun to be had in this film.

The only other bright spot is a wonderfully choreographed fight scene between Ford and Bettany. According to those involved, it took three days to film and stunt men were used for maybe 2 seconds of the finished product. Admirable, but just not enough.

Save your $9 and don't encourage Warner Brothers.
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Firewall Burns Out Early
"Firewall" puts Harrison Ford between a rock and a hard place. Here's a man who's a power-player in his field forced to sabotage his career by money-hungry men with no regard for his profession. These men wear suits and inhabit the boardrooms of the biggest studios in Hollywood. But what about the movie?

In this second-rate action flick, Ford plays computer security specialist Jack Stanfield, a loyal bank executive and serious family man who lives in a stunning house with wife Beth (Virginia Madsen) and two kids. But a bigger company is about to buy out Jack's bank and, as a result, his company is under more surveillance than usual.

We learn early on that Jack's family is being watched also. The film opens nicely with footage of the Stanfield family going about their daily business — and it's footage obviously shot in secret from a distance. After the montage is over, however, the voyeuristic thrill of stalking an unwitting target is never again recaptured. Instead, we are treated to the achingly slow process of Jack being introduced to and later cornered by villain Bill Cox (Paul Bettany).

Cox is a straight-faced criminal plotting to use Jack's technological know-how to break the codes and circumvent the firewalls built to protect Landrock Pacific Bank's millions. He and a group of young gun-toting mercenaries barge into Jack's life and take the family hostage - a persuasive tactic, one would think, but it takes Jack a surprisingly long time to understand the gravity of this threat and take appropriate action.

Cox's crack team doesn't exactly have a lot of "crack" left in its whip. These amateur goons are obnoxious and bumble around not at all invested in what they're doing. Much of the movie shows them cloistered in the Stanfield household, eating food and watching TV while their prisoners wander around more or less undisturbed and certainly not imprisoned.

In fact, nobody seems to care about the situation — not the kids, not Jack, not Beth. So why should director Richard Loncraine expect us to care either? Madsen was brilliant in "Sideways," but in "Firewall" her performance is lacking. There are no hysterics, no tears and no signs of any inner emotional struggle when strangers threaten her with guns. Instead, Beth is calm, which, in the context of an action-thriller, is a counterintuitive choice for the actress to make. Nevertheless, it's Harrison Ford who seems to be making most of the bad choices these days.

As I watched Jack sit on the couch in one scene, the deep crags in his face twitching as he tries to figure out how to get out of this situation, I wondered if what I was really witnessing was the actor behind the character trying to figure out a way to get out of this movie. Ford's effort is admirable, but, unfortunately, the half-baked script and meager direction undermines any positives brought to the table.

It's a shame, too, because "Firewall" also features the talents of veterans such as Robert Forster ("Jackie Brown"), Alan Arkin ("Slums of Beverly Hills") and Robert Patrick ("Terminator 2: Judgment Day"). Mary Lynn Rajskub of "24" fame also stars, reprising her role as the only girl you can trust at the office. Stick to Jack Bauer, Mary, and I'll stick to television when I want a good thriller.

Incidentally, guess what's up next for Keifer Sutherland: action-thriller "The Sentinel," with old-timer Michael Douglas in the lead. It just keeps getting better, doesn't it?

Copyright (c) 2006 by Lauren Simpson
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Predictable and plodding
anhedonia8 July 2006
I like Harrison Ford. He was fun to watch as Indiana Jones and Han Solo. Even his Jack Ryan films were, for the most part, watchable. (They were certainly easier to sit through than that piece of nonsense starring Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan, that's for sure.) But as Ford ages, he really should work on playing more character roles. He's played Jack Stanfield-like roles so many times that there is nothing more or new he can bring to his performances.

He's also not the most diversely-ranged actor. He pretty much runs the gamut of emotions from highly enraged to enraged when he plays these roles, be they in "Frantic" (1998), "Patriot Games" (1992) or "Air Force One" (1997), all of which I enjoyed far more than "Firewall." Once again, Ford plays someone who has to rescue his family from danger and get the bad guys at the same time. Even ignoring the one gigantic plot hole in this film - Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) meticulously plans his dastardly deed after seemingly months of research, but then is ignorant of one incredibly crucial point - the film sputters along without much energy.

There certainly are very few thrills in this thriller. And for a thriller that is meant to be taut, this one's awfully loose and riddled with coincidences, no more so than in the climax. The manner in which Stanfield finds the bad guys is truly laughable.

Virginia Madsen got a well-deserved boost from "Sideways" (2004). And if her filmography is any indication, it seems she has attached herself to some interesting films. However, as brilliant as she was in "Sideways," she thoroughly wasted in "Firewall," serving merely as a decoration for Ford. Substitute Anne Archer from the Jack Ryan films or Wendy Crewson from "Air Force One" and you'll know what I mean.

The infuriating thing about watching "Firewall" is knowing that, considering the cast, its above-the-line costs alone were in the millions of dollars. Throw production and publicity costs in and you're talking a good fortune.

Now, just imagine how many wonderful $3-million-to-$5-million, or less, pictures could have been made instead of this rubbish.
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