|Genre(s): Adventure / Crime / Drama / Thriller|
|Warner Brothers || PG13 - 105 minutes || February 10, 2006|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-08-17|
Writer(s): Joe Forte (written by)
Cast: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Robert Patrick, Robert Forster
Comment on this and other movies on the message board!
Warning: This review contains minor spoilers!
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.