Firewall (2006)

Genre(s): Adventure / Crime / Drama / Thriller
Warner Brothers || PG13 - 105 minutes - $19.98 || June 6, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-08-17


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Richard Loncraine
Writer(s): Joe Forte
Cast: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Robert Patrick, Robert Forster


Theatrical Release Date: February 10, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Firewall Decoded
  • Firewall: Writing a Thriller
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Synopsis (from DVD back cover): Itís an ordinary day at Landrock Pacific Bank -- ordinary for everyone but I.T. expert Jack Stanfield (Ford). His wife and children are held hostage at home. Their kidnappers have one demand: Jack must heist $100 million from the ultra-secure system he designed. And theyíll be watching every move he makes. The criminalsí plan is airtight. They figure they canít lose. But they overlook one thing: the desperation of a man with everything to lose.

Admittedly, Firewall is an ordinary thriller, but for me, it goes above mediocrity due almost solely on the charisma of Harrison Ford, because outside of his performance and even that of Paul Bettany and Virginia Madsen -- both great actors in their own right -- there is little else that makes this film stand out from any other suspense-thriller coming around the corner every week.

The heist itself isnít overly complicated and does not go deep into jargon, and thatís probably because while the situation is interesting, the kidnapping of a family to get the father to rob the bank he works at, they wanted to go high tech, but didnít know how to go about it. So, dumb it down and hope people will just go along with it seemed to be the course of action.

This being my second viewing, Firewall holds up as a nice thriller worthy of watching every once in a while or on television (given its light PG-13 rating, itís easy enough to edit to USA Network or TBS). No, itís not a great movie and Harrison Ford really needs to think about the future how heís no longer the thriller hero he once was, but as it stands, I find no harm in watching this movie.

Original Review:
Firewall is your classic suspense/thriller with a basic, money-driven plot and no twists. You have the good guys and the bad guys... Plain and simple. If you want an idea of what I'm talking about, check out the recent Red-Eye starring Rachel McAdams and Cillian Murphy. Firewall is basically like Red-Eye and many other thrillers that have come before. However, it's not just the plot that counts, it's who fills the roles.

Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones movies) makes his return to cinema, after a 3 year absence, family man Jack Stanfield. He's a successful computer-security analyst in (where else?) Seattle and has a beautiful wife (Madsen; Sideways) and two nice kids. Things seemingly are going well, despite a merger that may eliminate Jack's position at a bank, until the mysterious Brian Cox (Bettany; The Da Vinci Code) comes into the Stanfield's lives.

Cox (a name Bettany, as stated on the late night circuit, finds hilarious) and his gang of thugs take the Stanfields hostage to force Jack to steal 100 million dollars from the bank's wealthy clients. As you can imagine -- and if you've seen the trailers -- Jack doesn't like this one bit and might, just might, take the situation into his own hands.

What I enjoyed about Firewall was that it doesn't, at least to me, pretend to be some "smart" thriller. Director Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon) seems to rely on Harrison Ford's charisma to bring along the audience. Otherwise, the faults in plot and character development might be more prevalent to me.

If you're not rooting for Harrison Ford, you're at least detesting Paul Bettany's villainous part. To be honest, there isn't anything in his performance, per se, that's unique to your standard thriller, but he does convey both heartless evil but civil mischief at the same time. As I said, it isn't great nor is it a role I'll remember a year from now (which, at that point I hope Nolan and company name him as the new Joker), but, like Ford, he gets the job done.

Rounding out the cast are Virginia Madsen as Jack's tough wife, Jimmy Bennett and Carly Schroeder as the kiddies (and thankfully they're not annoying or overly courageous (unlike Hostage or Jurassic Park III) and Mary Lynn Rajskub as Jack's eager secretary (you "24" fans know her as Chloe). For good measure, veteran actors Robert Patrick (Terminator 2), Alan Arkin (Gattaca) and Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) are thrown in for thankless parts (or perhaps red herrings).

The story isn't overly technical, even if it's about a wire bank robbery. Written by Joe Forte -- only his second screenplay --, the story is quite simple and doesn't make bones about it. What happens is, Jack types a few things on a keyboard and then, wa la, it's done. But like Red-Eye and even Mr. & Mrs. Smith before it, it doesn't matter so long as the viewer can root for the hero and hate the villain... Simple but it works in the end.

My only complaint is the ending. After 85-90 minutes of build-up and set ups, the film seems to just end without a resolution on Jack's professional front, something that I presume would be tough to explain to the authorities (even with a person or two on your side). Nevertheless, outside of that, I did like Firewall and if you're a fan of the old Harrison Ford actioners, this is the movie for you... but please don't go in expecting some mind puzzler.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Realizing Firewall didnít make a splash at the box office, providing many features was out of the question, especially for Warner who seems to get shoddy with some of their recent releases.

Firewall Decoded (15:15) - Star Harrison Ford and director Richard Loncraine sit down for a chat about the film, making it and toss around some jabs at each other concerning various items including stunt work and the story.

Firewall: Writing a Thriller (3:10) - Writer Joe Forte talks about how he came up with the idea for Firewall and also talks about having himself kidnapped by an Israeli agent (or former one) to get the feel for it. Iíve heard of method acting, but method writing? Nice.

Also included is a theatrical trailer.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Firewall is presented in 2.35 aspect ratio, anamorphic widescreen and looks just as good as it did in theaters. Loncraineís style is standard like the movie itself, but one shouldnít expect too much in terms of coloring or visuals on the whole.

As per most Warner Brothers DVDs, you have the usual Dolby Digital 5.1 that suffices for this suspense-thriller. Itís not overwhelming but I donít need a DTS mix for this kind of movie.



.::OVERALL::.

I liked Firewall despite its transparent flaws and itís a movie I can watch when I donít feel like thinking. Would it be my first choice for a Friday night? Probably not, but I donít see anything wrong with it.

As for the DVD, the lack of features is all right, I only wish they wouldíve provided a commentary with the writer or even someone like Virginia Madsen. Oh well, not a big loss.