**1/2 (out of 5)
February 10, 2006
Harrison Ford as JACK STANFIELD
Paul Bettany as BILL COX
Virginia Madsen as BETH STANFIELD
Robert Patrick as GARY MITCHELL
Alan Arkin as ARLIN FORESTER
Robert Forster as HARRY ROMANO
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Richard Loncraine
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
So many questions can be raised in your mind after watching “Firewall”… Is my identity safe? What would I do if someone threatened my family? Can you really steal “virtual” money?
These questions are all perfectly valid, but while watching “Firewall,” the one that kept cycling through my head was, “Isn’t Harrison Ford getting too old for this?”
Let’s face it. “Firewall” is a Harrison Ford movie before it’s anything else. Yes, Paul Bettany is a good actor, and Virginia Madsen is hot off an Oscar nom, but the most recognizable name in this movie is Ford’s.
The unfortunate thing with Harrison Ford is that he’s always been a one-note actor. He’s very good at it, mind you, like a male Julia Roberts. However, he’s never really had much success outside of the cantankerous scoundrel roughneck. He’s made a career out of this role – Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan and even some one-time films like Richard Kimble in “The Fugitive.”
However, unlike aging actors such as Sean Connery, Ford just doesn’t have the versatility. So when he’s faced with a role like Jack Stanfield in “Firewall,” it doesn’t quite seem right. And when he finally does start going into “action hero mode,” it just gets silly. After all, how much of a villain can Paul Bettany be if he’s getting his butt whipped by a man more than twice his age?
“Firewall” tells the story of Jack Stanfield (Ford), a security expert at a bank. His family is taken hostage, and the kidnappers want him to hack into the bank’s richest accounts in order to steal $100,000,000. However, when Stanfield fears they’re going to kill his family, he takes the money hostage in order to save his family.
Overall, I had very mixed feelings of “Firewall.” Some parts of the film were done very well. The pacing was good in parts, and several plot points were very clever. In particular, the subject matter is incredibly relevant. In these days of identity theft, the cyber-terrorist is all too real.
However, there was plenty that didn’t sit well with me. For as brilliantly as the kidnappers planned things, they really didn’t have their act together. Bettany plays Cox, the lead kidnapper, but he had no teeth. I never felt the family was in any danger. Case in point, in order to show how evil he is, Cox doesn’t shoot the wife in the leg or anything. Instead, he kills his own henchman. Plus, his biggest weapon against the family is a box of peanut butter cookies he feeds to the son, who is allergic to nuts.
Ultimately, Stanfield’s family is far too accepting of these terrorists. They’re making pancakes with them, eating cookies and playing Monopoly, as if it was just a lazy Sunday afternoon. If I was held at gunpoint with my kids, I don’t know what I’d do, but I certainly wouldn’t be pulling out board games to pass the time.
The film does push the right buttons at times. In some ways, it reminds me of the Denzel Washington thriller “Out of Time” from 2003. This wasn’t a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it definitely had its moments.
Just keep in mind that “Firewall” is a summer action film or holiday blockbuster that is being released in February because it wouldn’t have stood up well against the competition in the busier months.