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The only thing this film had going for it was it's ability to shock me
with it's incredulous dialogue, storyline and casting.
Firstly, I think casting directors aren't so concerned with reality anymore. The opportunity to have HArrison Ford on board for this vehicle was obviously paramount. I am sure that there are many 40-somthing actors who would have been better suited to this role. It is almost sad watching someone in his 60's hobbling about trying to save his family before being beaten up by someone less than half his age. Anyway, so Harrison is too old to be the father of a 7 yr old, the husband of Virginia MAsden, and the hero of this movie. If anyone really expects us to believe that he would be able to see out the heavies in the way he does, it makes you wonder what audience they are appealing to. There is no denying that Ford is a terrific actor. However the performance was on autopilot and the monotone with which his character speaks sent me to sleep on a number of occasions. Well, that and the clunky script which limped from one incredulous scene to another. There was no spark between husband and wife, and the only subtle, understated and therefore standout performance, was that of the role of Janet the secretary. Unfortunately with the dialogue these actors were given, it would have taken a miracle to pass it off as true. Bettany put in a career worse as the bad guy and his decisions to scare Harrison Ford by eliminating a few of his own gang members, thus putting Ford's character in a stronger position, almost had me laughing.
By the time the show staggered to it's predictable, banal conclusion, I was almost transfixed to the screen. Ford is so picky and methodological when picking scripts it makes you wonder how this ever appealed to him.
I was telling my Mother I had just returned from seeing the latest
Harrison Ford movie, and all I needed to say was 'it was, you know, a
Harrison Ford movie', and she said without any real knowledge of the
story in the film what the story was about. Because the components are
the same as what Ford has been working with in these kinds of thrillers
he's been in for the past twenty years or so: Ford's a businessman,
family gets kidnapped/held hostage, criminals need Ford to get them
money, yada yada yada, cut to the chase, and the climax with Ford
kicking ass and taking names. Going into Firewall I expected that, as
it being a kind of Hollywood A-list formula picture, and all I asked
was that it deliver some bang for the buck. It did, though there are
certain points I wondered if little holes in the story (and a bit of a
stretch in believability for the climax) were worth some of the more
At the least there's a competent actor to play the antagonist, played by Paul Bettany, already making his mark as a solid character actor. He and his five man crew take said Jack Stanfield's (Ford's) family hostage (with Virginia Madsen as his beautiful- and in real life twenty years younger-wife), in order to get 100 million out of a bank that he works at. Things seem to be going as planned for the robbers until- surprise- the banker turns the tables on them. Director Richard Lacarne is also competent enough to not muck up (some of) the suspense scenes, and even supplies a couple of un-formulaic scenes to work its way through for the actors to work with (one example for me was a brief scene with Bettany and Ford's son watching the Flintstones). But then at some point then the story takes its turn, and I just sat back waiting for the inevitable to come around.
The storytelling of the film isn't too much of the problem with Firewall, but its not the same really enveloping, truly tense territory of the Fugitive or Air Force One. Not that I would complain too much, I'm sure I'm maybe part of the audience that would go see a Ford picture just for the fact that he's in it doing what he does in his successful 'escapist' way. However I also know that these kinds of films can't last much longer for him and he may have to pick different scripts; the final confrontation/fight scene that happens in the film is watchable, but even for someone leaving disbelief its a little too much to comprehend. Like Clint Eastwood, Ford has here a movie for his fans, and it's a notch above some of the other work he's done in the past several years. But as the mechanics of this movie turn, however good, it doesn't reach for anything more to work with.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this movie on a retreat, miles away from civilization, with
no other form of entertainment available. If I had the chance again,
I'd stick to the rocking chair on the porch. This movie is the worst
piece of illogical crud I think I have ever seen. Examples:
1. How do they get internet access out in the wilds of Washington State? Do they bounce it from coffee shop to coffee shop out there?
2. The secretary just goes along without a single doubt when her crazy, bloody boss (who fired her without cause earlier in the day) shows up at her door?
3. The DOG has a GPS chip. Which they need the aforementioned magical internet to track. 'Nuf said about that one.
4. Harrison Ford who's probably, what, 30 years older than Paul Bettany, manages to fall down stairs, get the snot beat out of himself, yet STILL saves the day.
Mr. Ford, please go home, get Callista to fix you a nice cup of tea and give up the action films. Or at least invest in a new pair of reading glasses the next time someone sends you a script.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
How do these movies get made? I've seen this plot so many times it's
become a joke. How many times has Harrison Ford done it as well? Dad
saves family/Mom saves family from mean bastards. Enough PLEASE! A
recent example is Panic Room.
Harrison Ford is a fine actor but he is not believable as a 6o something father to an 8 year old. And how often do we see the dissatisfied daughter calling here parents by their first name? OK the bad guys are pretty rote as well. All mean except for one that helps the family and for his troubles he gets a bullet.
Do yourself a favor and rent anything other than this refried piece of horrible trash.
Sorry to say, this has to be one of the worst films I have EVER seen in my 60 years of movie watching. To witness one of my favorite actors flailing, huffing and puffing and did I also say blubbering. Oh to return to those days when he was fighting the bad guys in Star Wars, and he was shooting the man who dared to use his whip against his gun in Indiana Jones. Yes, those were the days. I think today he's only in it for the money. The past few years Mr. Ford has just been going through the motions. I really don't have too much else to say about this so called action-drama, but I was doing more laughing than anything else after the first half. Well, I am told I have a few more lines to enter before this comment will be OK'd by the powers that be. Great, I have over 10 lines. Now all I can say in four words is......don't waste your time.
www.kajatm.com Firewall is the latest rehashed film about a business
man who has access to a large amount of money for the company that he
works for and is eventually forced to do what the bad guys wants him to
do because the bad guys have kidnapped his family. The movie stars
Harrison Ford, Virginia Madsen, and Paul Bettany who has been in such
successful movies as a Knight's Tale, and a Beautiful Mind. Firewall,
my loyal readers, is not one of those movies. But at least Paul Bettany
gets to wake up next to Jennifer Connely every morning, so he has that
going for him, which is nice. The only good acting in this movie is
done by Virginia Madsen who plays the wife of Harrison Ford and really
does a good job of playing a mother that is concerned with her family's
well being. This is the only highlight in this film but I think people
are catching on that Hollywood only puts out garbage in the month of
Oh Han Solo, where have you gone? At some point in Harrison Ford's career he decided to attend the Al Pacino School of Angry acting. This is really a sad statement on what was a great career. He used to be such a great actor, one of those guys that you'd like to go and have a beer with but since, I'd say 1989 his career has done a 180 and is slowly spiraling right down the crapper. Let's look at the list of movies Harrison Ford has been in since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: Patriot Games, The Fugitive, Clear and Present Danger, The Devil's Own, Air Force One, 6 Days 7 Nights, What Lies Beneath, and K-19 the Widow Maker. With the exception of The Fugitive this is some of the worst career choices since Mariah Carey decided to act in Glitter.
I've decided to add to my column this week the introduction of Jimstradamus. Now Jimstradamus predicted that this movie was going to be terrible once he saw the preview. Jimstradamus knew that something ridiculous was going to happen. Jimstradamus knew that Harrison Ford would act with his "angry voice" for 90% of the film. And guess what? All of these things that Jimstradamus predicted happened, yet Jim could not help himself from paying for this piece of garbage.
First Hollywood wants us to believe that 85 year old Harrison Ford has the ability to stop the bad guys by beating them up. Come on, Harrison Ford couldn't stop Calista Flockhart from sticking her finger down her throat again so I really don't buy that he could kick someone's ass. Second we are supposed to believe that Harrison Ford can crash a car going 50 miles and hour, have the car blow up and then walk away without a scratch. Finally we are supposed to believe that Harrison Ford is truly a good actor just because he uses his "angry voice" to make himself more believable. Guess what, I'm not buying any of this.
This movie was just terrible. I would recommend it to no one unless you really disliked someone and you wanted them to experience the pain that this movie brings to the viewer. If that is the case then by all means I would recommend it. Harrison Ford once said "GET OFF MY PLANE" I just wanted to stand up during the movie and scream, "GET OFF MY SCREEN".
P.S. I just wanted to add a quick note on one of the actresses in this movie, Mary Lynn Rajskub whom you may know from the TV series 24. What is this chick's deal? Am I the only person that thinks whenever I see her act on screen she always looks like she is constipated? How about smiling once in a while or may I suggest some EX-LAX?
I don't understand why Harrison Ford would agree to be in a stupid
movie like this. My only explanation is that his family was kidnapped
and he had to make this movie as a ransom.
This movie had an interesting initial angle, which is "bank security and technology." However, this perfectly reasonable idea was quickly ruined by all the Hollywood clichés, unnecessary (& stupid) plot twists, and shamelessly borrowed ideas from other movies (e.g., Nick of Time, Fugitive, Ransom, Entrapment, etc.).
Harrison Ford's character was so hi-tech, he forgot that something known as a piece of paper was invented long before email and the Internet. Paul Battany's characters went from a cool, calm, smart, and cold-blooded mastermind to a temperamental, angry, stupid, and careless street thug literally overnight. Since when did Patrick Robert become an extra on the set? Can they just pick some uncool/unknown third tier actor to play this character? Such a disrespect to the almighty T-1000!
Seriously, any episode of "Lost" or "24" will be more entertaining and suspenseful than this movie.
It's amazing that someone can make so many turkeys and remain as big a
movie star as Harrison Ford is. Think about it can you name the last
good Harrison Ford movie? Didn't think so. "Firewall," incidentally,
offers nothing to change that dynamic. This creaky, labored thriller
sustains itself with a plot straight out of pretty much every episode
of "Macgyver" or "Knight Rider," but without the neat improvised
gadgets or closeted talking Trans Am. And as if that weren't enough, it
asks us to believe that someone as old and crusty as Ford, and not some
young, wired-generation type, would be the information security expert
for a major bank. It's a sad day indeed when Indiana Jones is reduced
to such mindless silliness.
"Firewall" sprinkles in bits of contemporary technology to try to mask the fact that it's just another "don't hurt my family" movie. But an iPod here and camera phone there just simply isn't enough to make it more than an excuse for Ford to put on his righteously indignant face for two hours. A film like "Cellular," for example, cleverly hinged its plot on the technological capabilities and limitations of its characters. "Firewall," though, rarely gets beyond someone pointing a gun at Ford's Jack Stanfield and telling him to type something.
The film tries to affect a breathless urgency that would leave little time nor need for character development, but very little actually ever happens. His family held hostage in a home invasion led by accented baddie Cox (Paul Bettany), Stanfield is told to go to work in order to embezzle $100 million from the accounts of his bank's 10,000 richest customers. Unappreciative of such democratic thuggery, Stanfield makes the transfer happen after a few half-hearted attempts at trickery, and some unanticipated obstacles. How? He types some things with a gun pointed at him. Egalitarian robbery aside, though, Cox isn't through. Stanfield's family is still in danger. Slipping through Cox's clutches, Stanfield manages to undo the transfer, telling Cox he'll rewire the money only after his family is released. So after nearly 2 hours, "Firewall" is back exactly where it started, but decides this time to treat the moment as climax instead of set-up.
That could work if we had any understanding of or regard for who these people are, but "Firewall" doesn't bother. Cox, for example, is just some guy with nothing more than arbitrary greed as a motive. Virginia Madsen, in particular, gets the short end here, going from a rich, nuanced, Oscar-nominated role ("Sideways") to a Screaming Wife. There's nothing here to engage us in the least with these characters, and not a shred of inspiration in the plot to keep us involved. Even the title seems chosen not for what it has to do with the actual film (essentially nothing), but because it implies violence and tension. "Firewall" goes through the motions in the worst way, giving the impression of being bored with itself. Those talking heads and articles that periodically surface decrying the crap that comes out of Hollywood? This is what they're talking about.
This movie is not good. The dialogue is hackneyed, if not cliché. This
is basically a watered down version of "Hostage" that has been
technologized up to the standards of "24". Harrison Ford is too old for
this part. You don't believe that he can survive the things he does in
the film. He is not intimidating saying those lines of grit and
determination. It seems as if they were going for those "Get off my
plane" moments he is known for, but he just didn't pull it off in this
film. Not to mention that the ending, I won't spoil it for you, but it
was not done satisfyingly.
On the bright side (silver lining?), Some of the cinematography was done pretty well. As far as the plot, it starts off well, but it seems like they were rushed or at a loss for how to resolve it. Overall, the brightest spot is Mary Lynn Rajskub's performance. She does a great supporting job in the film.
If you are thinking about watching this, Rent the Fugitive and Air Force One, and pop some popcorn. You'll enjoy it more, I promise.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Here is what I'd predict Harrison Ford's letter to America after
viewing this movie would be:
Dear Moviegoers --
Hi, I'm an overrated grizzled old actor named Harrison Ford. Instead of giving it up after the horrendous 'Hollywood Homicide', I'm back with another movie! My new movie is 'Firewall'. It's a slow-moving thriller surrounding me. I'm a well-off, older but still incredibly sexy and wealthy investment banker with two whiny children who can't act and a wife whose twenty years younger than me played by Virginia Madsen. You may remember Virginia Madsen for giving an incredible multi-layered performance in 'Sideways', but now she abandons all her artistic integrity to stagger through a crappy role in my new movie. These friggin' terrorists kidnap my family, and I kick the crap out of 'em and save the day. One is played by British actor Paul Bettany who gives the finest performance in this lackluster of a film, and I kick his ass! The ending is sappy and the only redeeming quality about the 105 minute film is some great action sequences toward the end. Oops, I almost forgot there is a cute little puppy dog in the movie who gets into some wacky trouble.
- Harrison Ford
P.S.: Please stop calling me asking for your money refunded.
(Grade: C- (screened at AMC Deer Valley 30, Phoenix, Arizona, 2/11/05)
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