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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.
A disappointingly routine Hollywood thriller in which genuine thrills
are few and far between, the script is hackneyed and there's a general
tired feeling to the proceedings. Harrison Ford, looking way too old to
be playing a family man with two young kids, stars as a software
security expert coerced into carrying out a virtual bank robbery with
the aid of a villainous gang. There are a few moments of interest here
and there along the way as Ford attempts to extricate himself from the
situation, but by the end it's turned into a virtual reprise of AIR
FORCE ONE with the star taking on various machine-gun wielding thugs
and somehow coming off the better.
Much of the blame can be laid on the script, which displays a real paucity of imagination when it comes to detailing suspenseful and/or original situations. Supposedly sympathetic characters such as the peanut-allergic kid come across as nothing more than whiny brats and Ford is so unenthused that he barely bothers giving a proper performance, instead sleepwalking through his part.
While it's fun to see Virginia Madsen (ALIEN) back on screen again, her character is left on the sidelines and the only actor who comes away giving anything like a half decent performance is Paul Bettany, whose British villain is far too much of a nice guy to be imposing in any case. The kid-friendly rating means that much of the violence and impact are sanitised and safe and aside from the novel use of a pickaxe in one scene there's hardly anything to remember this by.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had heard of this film because of the two male actors starring, and the title I knew was something to do with computers, so I was intrigued about what it would involve, from director Richard Loncraine (Richard III, Wimbledon). Basically Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) is chief of security for a global bank and designed a computer system and firewall to protect all accounts and his employer, and one day he is introduced to Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) who is interested in working there. Cox however reveals his true motives when going home with Jack and with his gang of violent psychopathic criminals holding him, his wife Beth (Candyman's Virginia Madsen) and children hostage. Cox wants Jack to break into his own security system to steal $100 million dollars from the many highest ranking bank accounts in the Caymans, and he has a hidden camera and sound pieces to make sure he can't get help. Of course Jack tries to fool the criminals and get away, but he fails and is forced into doing what he was meant to in order to save his family. Cox is there as he claimed he did not know how to do the job, but he finds a way to do it unnoticed and he takes the high amount of money ready for transfer hoping this will end the ransom. Of course Jack is allowed to go back home to get his family out, but he realises it was all a lie and he was to be killed, and now with the help of his recently fired assistant Janet Stone (Road Trip's Mary Lynn Rajskub) he must end it all. He manages to find a way to track where the family are with the help of a GPS in the dog collar, and he threatens Cox to give back a few million dollars at a time if he doesn't let his family go. In the end he goes to the location where the family have been taken on the map, and he kills the criminals, saving the family and the police supposedly have the money restored to all the accounts. Also starring Robert Patrick as Gary Mitchell, Robert Forster as Harry Romano, Alan Arkin as Arlin Forester, Carly Schroeder as Sarah Stanfield, Jimmy Bennett as Andy Stanfield and Rat Race's Vince Vieluf as Pim. Ford as usual is aggressive and reliable, Bettany is a reasonably nasty villain, the scenes of the family with the criminals are a little unusual, and the computer stuff can get a little complicated, but it is a mildly alright crime thriller. Okay!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
We have a good mix this time : a hostage situation, a heist, and a
sophisticated evil. All of these points are well served, especially the
last one. During the last 15 years, from (The Net 1995) to (Live Free
or Die Hard 2007), movies race to portray how crime has become
digital, and how our world turned into a small computer to be hacked.
The pace is sharp. All the games to be played between the kidnapped and the kidnapper were done satisfyingly. And sure the end is happy, but.. laconic. I couldn't stand closing off a movie silently like this. It was like "We finished. Go home !". Actually at one point I said to myself that the movie lacks the humor, I don't suppose that a comic line had to be put in every thriller, it just assures something electronic about this movie's nature, something harmonizes with its sullen face, as if it's pure suspense done by a Hollywood robot ! Even a robot could have made the relationship between the husband and his wife has its problems to be solved in the end, or how that father was too separated from his family then that crises brings him back on track.. ANYTHIG LIKE THIS !
Thus (Paul Bettany) looked confident, quiet, elegant, and most of all British (I don't know the Hollywood mania over the British men as evil ?). However he, along with everybody here, wasn't given much of a character to play. He was the bad guy, as much as (Harrison Ford) was the good guy, (Virginia Madsen) the good wife, (Alan Arkin) the work's boss.. and so on.
So it's sheer thriller. But even if; it suffers. Some things bothered me, like many small goofs, I bet they were all covered in the IMDb's goof section starting with (Bettany)'s remark about how beautiful (Ford)'s daughter's eyes are, while her photo has her eyes closed, to shooting bullets at (Ford) in his car that indubitably must have killed him, while noting hurt him at all !
Now to some major goofs : We didn't know exactly how (Ford) did the heist using objects like printer and Mp3 player ? (Robert Patrick) knows that (Ford) is stealing the company from different places and yet he doesn't inform anybody by simple phone call ?, why (Ford) broke into the flat of his friend (Harry / Robert Forster) ?, why to search into that friend's computer ? (a way to uncover for us the evil guy's plan to frame the lead comes obviously forced and too faraway to conjecture !), when did anybody see (Ford) there with a gun ?, how he walked that easily before and after despite being a "most wanted" after the company's disaster ?, and seriously the storyline of (Harry) was vague. I couldn't understand fully what his role in the crime was ?!
The director is a problem. While the script was all the time intense, the image wasn't. During the first 2 acts the image doesn't embody the thrill. There was a certain irony between the hot event and the cold handling. It doesn't get fiery until the end of the third act. I believe with other names, such as (John McTiernan), (Renny Harlin) or (Tony Scott), it would have been at least more catchy.
Needless to say that (Ford) can do his job in action more than any action figure would do, namely he can act. Through a limited script which was busy making thrill, he managed to be a weak human father and husband. And he impressed me in couple of action scenes. That 64-year-old man made some moments that his grandchildren must be proud of.
This is typical Hollywood thriller. Into the point and no-nonsense. However its real characteristic is in its tight suspense. Else that it's a movie to pass the time with, which I already have passed the time with through hundreds of previous movies and TV episodes. It could have been smarter with clearer details, deeper drama and cleverer directing. Yes, thrillers get smarter with additional things like that !
P.S : The most enjoyable moment in this movie for me has to be the fistfight between (Robert Patrick) and (Ford) at the garage. I burst laughing when I imagined (Ford) averting (Patrick)'s punches by words like "You think yourself The Terminator ?!, Well, that was in one movie baby. Because I'm Han Solo. You know what that means ? 3 movies. And I'm Indiana Jones too. Meaning 4 movies YOU SUCKA !!"
Although I have always regarded Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas as
being dissimilar in terms of their acting style, Douglas being more the
flamboyant of the two and Ford the more reserved, I was recently struck
by a number of parallels between their respective careers. These
probably originate from the fact that, at any given time, certain types
of film will be more in vogue than others, so two male stars who are
near-contemporaries of one another (Ford is two years older then
Douglas) are likely to be offered similar roles.
Both came to fame in the early eighties as the hero of action-adventure movies, Ford in the "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" franchises, Douglas in "Romancing the Stone" and its sequel, "The Jewel of the Nile". Later in the decade, both made films set against a background of high finance, "Working Girl" and "Wall Street". Both have played the heroes of cop thrillers ("Witness" and "The Fugitive" as against "Black Rain" and "Basic Instinct") and unfaithful husbands (in "Fatal Attraction" and "What Lies Beneath"). In the mid-nineties both played fictional American Presidents, Douglas in "The American President" and Ford in "Air Force One". And in the 2000s they have both made thrillers with a very similar plot, "Don't Say a Word" and "Firewall".
"Firewall" is a thriller of a type which dates back at least as far as Hitchcock's original "The Man who Knew Too Much" from the thirties but which has become very fashionable in recent years. Besides "Don't Say a Word", other recent examples include "Trapped" and "Red Eye". The basic premise is that the villains kidnap or make threats against a member of the hero's family in order to force the hero to assist them in some nefarious scheme. The villains usually want the hero to play some active part in their criminal enterprise rather than simply to pay a ransom (although "Trapped" is an exception in this respect).
Like "Trapped", "Firewall" is ostensibly set in America's Pacific North-West but was actually filmed, presumably for tax or financial reasons, in British Columbia which has similar scenery. (The same is also true of other recent films, such as "Double Jeopardy"). There is no real reason why these films could not actually be set in Canada, but it would appear that American audiences are not interested in watching films about foreigners, even about their neighbours across the forty-ninth parallel.
Like Douglas in "Don't Say a Word", Ford plays a professional man in late middle age, married to an attractive wife about two decades younger than him and with a young family. Douglas's character is a medical man (as was the character played by Stuart Townsend in "Trapped"); Ford's character, Jack Stanfield, is a computer expert employed by a Seattle-based banking corporation as its head of computer security. (A "firewall", in computer jargon, is a logical barrier designed to prevent unauthorised or unwanted communications between sections of a computer network; such devices do not play any major part in the plot, but someone obviously thought it made an impressive-sounding title).
Ford is not, perhaps, the most emotionally demonstrative of actors, but he is able to convey a sense of solidity and inner decency which make him valuable as the hero of crime thrillers, and Stanfield is a typical Ford hero. "Firewall", however, is one of his weaker thrillers, weaker than the likes of "Presumed Innocent" or "Patriot Games" and certainly not in the same class as "Witness" or "The Fugitive". Films of this type have become over-familiar in recent years, and "Firewall" recycles all the standard clichés- the happy, solidly middle-class family whose life is suddenly disrupted, the fight and chase sequences, the efficient, disciplined and ruthless villains. (They are so ruthless that their leader is capable of shooting one of his men dead for a minor failure on his part, and so well-disciplined that the others do not turn a hair at this murder). The essential premise is that Stanfield and his family are held hostage by a gang of criminals who want him to use his expertise to transfer large sums of money into accounts controlled by them; I don't need to set out any more of the plot as those familiar with the modern thriller will be able to work out the details for themselves.
Some elements even seem to have been borrowed, consciously or subconsciously, from similar thrillers. "Firewall" shares with "Trapped" not only its geographical location but also the plot device of a child with a potentially life-threatening illness. It shares with "Don't Say a Word" an Englishman as the leader of the villains (Sean Bean in the earlier film, Paul Bettany here. Although there was a fashion for French villains in the wake of the Iraq war, Britain now seems to have regained its Least Favoured Nation status among American film-makers). When thrillers start borrowing from one another not only the broad outlines of the plot but even minor details, it is a sure sign that originality must be in short supply in Hollywood. 5/10
My Take: The fairly predictable premise is redeemed by new developments
in the plot and convincing performances.
FIREWALL is an edgy and enjoyable piece of recycled cinema. The basic plot is the stuff of old capers and thriller clichés, yet it was more than renewed thru its use of advance technology and new attempts that the entire film almost looks new. FIREWALL is directed by Richard Loncraine, who gives the film a sufficient amount of pacing and creativity. Adding edge and new technology to an otherwise predictable old thriller. And with Harrison Ford on board giving the same amount of grit and charm, it's bound to be worth something.
Ford plays Jack Stanfield, a bank executive in charge of a nearly perfect bank protection system. He knows the codes and how to operate them, which makes him the number one target of the film's villains. The lead baddie is Bill Cox (Paul Bettany), who poses as an investor whose only interest on Jack is the $100 million that he and his thugs plan to get from him. Cox gives the usual treatment of threatening Jack's family, but they are played strikingly convincing, I didn't mind. The mother is played finely by Virginia Madsen while the the kids are played by teenage Carly Schroeder and young Jimmy Bennett. To save his family, he's forced to heist the $100 million from the bank using the advance computers and altering the system he once helped protect.
It's a hard act to do trying to make new materials out of old ones, but Loncraine are among the few who actually succeeds. I enjoyed the films terrific technological usage and computer-hacking hokum, I couldn't care less even if I know what might happen next. Of course, you do, but FIREWALL focuses more on a different side, how will it happen? Now that's a fun part.
FIREWALL is pure hokum, but its enjoyable enough to showcase Ford again. Even if it's sometimes predictable, at least Ford is there to give it all the charisma it needed. Trifle, but occasionally entertaining.
Rating: *** out of 5.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
firewall stars Harrison Ford as a bank security specialist,who is forced into breaking into the system he has designed by a vicious criminal played by Paul Bettany.jack Stanfield(Ford) must steal millions of dollars from several bank accounts or his family will be killed.Bettany plays Bill Cox,the ringleader.Viginia Madsen plays Beth Stanfield.As far as this type of movie goes,this one is okay.it is suspenseful and thrilling,but aside from the basic premise,nothing new. Virginia Madsen is a standout in her performance as the wife who is terrified but must keep it together for the sake of her children.Ford is his usual reliable self,but it seems he is simply playing the same character he usually plays.he is also getting up there in age,so it might be time to retire the action hero persona,and try something more character driven.Paul Bettany is outstanding as the antagonist.he personifies evil.this is a departure for him,but he may have a career playing the baddie.His performance elevates this film. i give this film 7/10
Harrison Ford, who does about one movie a year, decided to pick this
one. Why? The script was lousy, not to mention it is the exact same
character he has played over and over again. And this so called
thriller was rather boring. Not much action does not help a tired
script. It gets bogged down with all this computer mumbo jumbo. And
Ford is too old to be playing dad to a 7 year old.
Overall, the acting was over-the-top and the story filled with plot holes. And who would have known an ipod could delete millions of dollars from secure bank accounts.
FINAL VERDICT: Not very good. Ford needs to pick better scripts than this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Our enjoyment of this film was instantly destroyed when the banker hero
(Harrison Ford) found a stick-up man in the back of his car and had no
idea what he might be wanting.
"Whaddaya want?" he asked, his face screwed up in utter perplexity, as if being the security manager of a bank had absolutely nothing to do with anything and the last thing on earth he expected to face in his business was the barrel of a gun.
This effect was doubled when his wife, too, moments later was bewildered by the criminals invading her household. "Whaddaya want?" she begged to know, as if she had no idea her husband was a banker who worked for a bank where they banked large amounts of --- er --- money in a computer system.
It's not as though we expected the world's greatest suspense thriller, not at this late stage of the Harrison Ford cult, but basically credible main characters would be a good start.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie was truly absurd. Unrealistic is an understatement. The scene where Harrison Ford gives the camera pen to the secretary was confusing. How bout grabbing an old fashion pen and pad and writing "family held hostage at house... get help" instead of Nancying around the office like a startled deer. The alarm system back at the house was supposedly extremely sophisticated. I have a pretty standard alarm system and it has a feature that allows me to give an intruder a false code that silently alerts the police. When my alarm goes off they call and ask for a password and if you don't know it, no BS story is going to stop the cops from coming. All the characters were a bunch of synonyms for cats. A real criminal would have shot one of the hostages the second he started taking money back out of his account. And a real father would never gamble with his family's safety, especially one who doesn't even know how to gamble!!! And why would Ford believe the answering machine message from his wife when she's locked up back at the house? Did I miss something? Should I have paid more attention? I must have missed something because I can think of about twenty other things that make no sense at all.
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