harrison ford

Made in: USA
Language: English
Director: Richard Loncraine
Starring: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Alan Arkin, Robert Patrick, Robert Forster
Year: 2006

Synopsis: In 1992 there was a film called Patriot Games in which Harrison Ford played a guy named Jack who frowns a lot and has to save his family from a smart villain with blond hair. Fourteen years later, Harrison Ford plays a guy named Jack who frowns a lot and has to save his family from a smart villain with blond hair. Sound familiar?

In Air Force One - I mean Firewall -, Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) is the brilliant VP of computer security for a big-name bank. Along with a huge house in Seattle, he has a devoted wife, Beth (Virginia Madsen) two annoying kids, and a dog so shaggy one would not be able to tell which way it's facing if not for its tail.

Highly respected for having designed an impenetrable security program that somehow runs on Windows XP, we learn of Jack's commitment to protecting his clients' precious accounts, not to mention his serious anti-hacker skills.

But little by little, trouble creeps into Jack's near-perfect life. His bank is going through a difficult merger, he gets off on the wrong foot with the other company's head honcho, played by Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, Die Hard 2), and he finds himself the victim of identity theft when a collections agent claims he's racked up some ridiculous gambling debts.

Things really start to go south when Jack's family is taken hostage by a group of skinny bad guys led by an evil Englishman named Bill Cox (Paul Bettany). Bill forces Jack to outsmart the very security system he created and find a way to steal $100 million for the baddies or else his family and dog will be shot. Looks like tech support won't be able to help him out of that mess!

Remarks: At the time it was made, Firewall tries desperately to bring Harrison Ford back into the action arena, but recreates a storyline that Ford has gone through too many times before.

Once again we see him sport that trademark grumpy/concerned/scared expression, he dons a suit that will get ruined by movie's end, and in the midst of the obligatory fist fight he gets that same nasty cut either above his right eye or lower lip.

There are a few interesting and unexpected events, but for the most part, this is a by-the-numbers plot that chugs along predictably as previous Harrison Ford action movies have. And it's too bad that good supporting actors Mary Lynn Rajskub (24, Punch Drunk Love), Robert Forster (Jackie Brown), and Alan Arkin (Four Days in September, Gattaca) aren't given more to do as their presence could have added a bit more depth to the plot.

Another issue I have with the movie is the title itself. Having worked in I.T. before, this may be nitpicking a bit, but firewalls are generally designed to keep things like hackers and viruses in the outside world from getting into a network. Seeing that much of the story involves a bank's security being compromised by someone that's alreayd inside the bank itself, the use of a firewall as a major story element is nonexistent.

Therefore, calling this movie Firewall is like making a Spiderman movie that focuses entirely on Captain America. Maybe much of the public won't care or notice when it comes to Firewall, but if any sort of technical terminology is to be used in a movie, they should at least make the effort to get it right.

The villains in this movie, despite competent acting performances, are simply miscast. Paul Bettany is just too darn nice to be a believable baddie. Sure, he wields a pistol and makes a few threats. He's fun to watch and is charismatic enough, but his clean-shaven looks, good manners and nice suits somehow make him about as menacing as a Macy's customer service rep.

Previous Harrison Ford nemeses were downright scary. The IRA militant played by Sean Bean (Patriot Games), the crazy Russian played by Gary Oldman (Air Force One), the conniving doctor played by Jeroen Krabbe (The Fugitive), and Jabba the Hutt (my elementary school bus driver) were all folks whom you did not want to cross. They made you believe that they were capable of doing serious damage.

But in Firewall we can't even count on the peripheral villains. In the 80s Harrison Ford single-handedly took on a truck full of Nazis and squads of Imperial Stormtroopers. And less than twenty years later we're supposed to believe that the fate of one the greatest names in action movies is at the mercy of a couple of guys who look like they stepped out of the local Starbucks.

To be fair, Firewall's pace does pick up during the second half, offers some entertaining moments, and Ford proves he's still got it when it comes to rough-and-tumble action. But in the end, this movie unfortunately falls into the carbon freeze chamber of recent, pre-Indy 4 Harrison Ford disappointments.

(2 out of 4 stars)

Review written by Joe Yang

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