REVIEW: Firewall [2006]

“I’m going to find my dog”

It’s almost comforting to know that when trailers for action thrillers are in paint by numbers structure their film counterparts are as well. The Harrison Ford actioner Firewall seemed like a redundant, rehashed plot regurgitated for the umpteenth time and that is exactly what it ended up being, minus any real action. Sure the plot tried to be high-tech, utilizing the firewall protection systems that battle against hackers and computer viruses, taking pace away from the story to show us that Ford really knows his stuff—isn’t him being vp of security enough for us to believe he is good at his job? We aren’t watching this film to see technospeak and impressive feats of keystrokes, no we want to see Ford kick butt and save his family. Unfortunately, any real semblance of taking things into his hands only happens within the final twenty or so minutes. Throughout the rest of the runtime we just see battles of intellect and words instilling fear and danger in what the kidnappers are capable of doing.

Like always, we have the bankrobber staking out a bank’s corporate manager, taking his family hostage, and making him do their dirty work in order to save his loved ones. We have all seen this story before, we know they won’t let them live after the deed is done, they are collateral damage and no longer of use. So, we know Ford will have to fight with all he’s got to get through it all, it is just a shame that it takes so long for this realization to finally occur. Also, we have seen him do this film so many times before, it just isn’t believable to see his fear and shakiness from killing someone; come on, this is Harrison Ford, he eats bad guys for breakfast. Truthfully, between his phoning in the performance, Virginia Madsen being the token wife in distress, and a who’s who cast in five-minute roles, what is the point? Does having Alan Arkin, Robert Patrick, and Robert Forster on the bill really help this film? Their insignificant, blip roles surely don’t do anything except serve as stopgaps to progress a very intricately laid out plot, which will fall apart if one thing doesn’t happen along the way. We are made to sit through some scenes and quick quips of dialogue because if they weren’t there we’d scream plothole. It’s as though the writer wrote the story, saw the holes, and added lines back in to cover his progression— pure genius.

The film is not a total failure, though. Some stuff is marginally inventive, for instance the elaborate plan set into place for the robbers to go away free and clear rather than just killing everyone themselves. Also, our villain seems well written in most part due to the performance of Paul Bettany. It is nice to see an actor of his caliber not just take the paycheck, but instead have fun with the role and actually do a good job. When he is watching “The Flintstones” and eating cookies with Ford’s son, his delivery is classic. He can play the nice guy turning malicious on a dime well, and if you must see this film, he is the reason to do so.

Firewall 4/10 | ★ ½

[1] Virginia Madsen as Beth Stanfield, Jimmy Bennett as Andy Stanfield and Harrison Ford stars as Jack Stanfield in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Village Roadshow Pictures’ action thriller, ‘Firewall.’ The film also stars Paul Bettany.


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