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As dismaying as it is disheartening, "Firewall" is one of the least
original, least interesting and least necessary films I have seen in
ages. This is the umpteenth version of that old chestnut about a bank
executive whose family is held hostage while he is forced to assist the
kidnappers in robbing the bank. However, as this is the 21st Century,
the modus operandi of these criminals involves not guns and masks but
coded passwords and computerized money transfers. One would have to be
the biggest computer geek going to understand even half of what the
characters are doing at any given time in this film, though it scarcely
matters since the story itself is so distressingly hackneyed that one
is already watching the screen with an eye half-cocked to one's watch
Poor Harrison Ford, looking like he hasn't slept in days (and this is BEFORE his family is kidnapped), seems to sense that he is indeed at the nadir of his career and thus turns in a performance that is so lacking in energy and interest that he seems more bored with the material than we are. Paul Bettany has some effective moments as the smarmy criminal ringleader, but none of the other actors is given even a fighting chance with this wretched excuse for a screenplay. The only truly pressing question raised by "Firewall" is why anyone even bothered to make this film in the first place.
The trailer for this movie is awesome,but the movie is totally pathetic and a big deception.Harrison Ford made a pathetic film after another pathetic film called Hollywood Homicide.The movie is a copy of Hostage,an excellent movie with Bruce Willis.But that movie was more original,more fun and more unpredictable.This film is totally predictable and Harrison Ford is very old for this kind of characters.I slept on a part of this pathetic movie and I was so bored I did not pay much attention to this film.I do not recommend this horrible movie and if you want to see a great thriller film watch Hostage.I cannot believe that Harrison Ford was on this movie.
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.
Poor Harrison Ford. This guy just can't catch a break. Every film he
does gives viewers the haunting feeling of "Haven't I seen this
already?" Firewall is all about a wealthy doctor who loses everything
when a man with one arm murders his wife. Not really, but it may as
well have been.
The characters are lifeless, the plot is played and the story lines are really just too hard to believe (the bad guys are checking their bank account balances online using their laptops in the middle of the Washington wilderness?) I guess I shouldn't have expected much, but to be honest, I was disappointed.
"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
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.
When the biggest drama in the movie is a dog getting lost, you know you
have a problem.
It's not that the concept is irredeemable. Movies like Hostage and Panic Room have made great thrillers out of people being held hostage. But the film takes an interesting set up and sucks all the fun and suspense out of it.
Nothing remotely interesting happens throughout the whole running time. That, and what little drama there is isn't dramatic. The characters made really stupid decisions. Even more so than the characters in Panic Room. This made it very hard to like them.
Firewall fails all around. It's a thriller with no thrills and certainly no excitement.
Firewall is directed by Richard Loncraine and written by Joe Forte. It
stars Harrison Ford, Virginia Madsen, Carly Schroeder, Jimmy Bennett,
Paul Bettany, Robert Patrick and Mary Lynn Rajskub. Plot sees Ford as
Jack Stansfield, a man forced to technologically rob the global bank he
works for because his family are being held hostage. Easier said than
done, and maybe Jack has other ideas?
Utterly formulaic and a waste of some notable acting talent. Story offers nothing new in the long line of robbery/hostage thrillers that have gone before it. In fact Ford must have a sense of deja vu, he's trodden this well worn path before. Script is lazy and often-in the case of Bettany's weak villain-resorts to cliché all too often. There's the odd moment of excitement as director Loncraine realises the need for some impetus to jolt the film back to life, but they are all too rare an and not even the good old fisticuff finale can save this dud. 3/10
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!
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