Image Courtesy of Amazon.com
Harrison Ford……….Jack Stanfield
Paul Bettany……….Bill Cox
Virginia Madsen……….Beth Stanfield
There’s nothing about Firewall that isn’t unacceptable or shoddy film-making. It’s a competent, well-made thriller about a man fighting back against the men who’ve kidnapped his family. It’s just one thing about the whole proceedings that torpedoes the whole film on a believability level.
Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) is an upper level executive of a bank charged with keeping it secure from those wishing to steal its money. When a bill collector comes to his work, looking for a large sum of money spent in his name on an online betting site, Stanfield’s life gets turned upside down when Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) takes his family hostage with the demand of a large sum of money in exchange for their freedom. While striving to foil Cox at every turn, Stanfield has to defraud the bank he has strived so hard to help protect in order to protect his family. And on the whole, it’d be a top notch thriller except for one small thing.
It isn’t the villain of the film, for starters. Cox is a ruthless man who wants nothing more than a lot of money from Stanfield. He has a great scheme to defraud Jack’s bank and is every bit as ruthless as a man in his position should be. Bettany is a skilled actor and is a villain evil enough not to be considered cool enough to root for. Bettany isn’t in the same level as Philip Seymour-Hoffman from Mission: Impossible III or Alan Rickman from Die Hard in terms of being an action film villain but he’s close enough to warrant mention. Bettany is delightfully evil in his role, chewing scenery in his wake.
The film is also well-written and well-directed. Richard Loncraine does an admiral job keeping the suspense up and the film moving quickly. While the film does have some head-scratching moments in how it handles issues like technology, it is an action thriller so certain flaws like these acceptable. Jack using an iPod and some wires to swipe bank numbers and information is on the borderline in terms of believability, for example, but it’s just believable enough to make the film work.
The film’s flaw, it seems, comes from its main star Harrison Ford. Ford is a great actor and has been a headline star in two major action franchises: Star Wars and the Indiana Jones trilogy. Throw in several other action roles and films with these two major franchises and Ford’s legacy as an action hero is cemented. Problem is that all of these great roles are from many years ago; Ford is now 63 and has aged considerably over the years. His days of being able to hold his own in a fight with men in their 20s and 30s is long over, yet in Firewall he’s in fisticuffs with Bettany and his crew. His days of being Han Solo or Dr. Jones are long since passed and yet Ford is fighting Bettany as if he’s searching for buried treasure and ran into some hostile natives.
Firewall is a good, functional action thriller, though. Virginia Madsen is a bit underused as Mrs. Stanfield, and the rest of the cast isn’t noteworthy enough to stand out, but they’re good enough to make the film work.
Score : 7.5 / 10
Presented in a widescreen format with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Firewall has a flawless transfer. The colors are sharp and crisp.
Presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, the DVD has a great audio component to it as well. Well developed and separated, the film’s score and dialogue come through loud and clear.
Firewall Decoded: A Conversation with Harrison Ford and Richard Loncraine is a fifteen minute conversation between the director and the actor about the film in a pretty candid talk about the film. Open about the film’s flaws, as well as how the film came together in terms of both production and writing, it’s interesting to hear the two speak about the film in such honest terms. While Ford is much more upfront about the film, as Loncraine wants to try and describe the film as “special” and other glowing terms, it’s refreshing to hear them talk about the film and what they liked, didn’t like and what they thought didn’t work on screen as well.
Firewall: Writing a Thriller is a featurette that focuses on the film’s script with writer Joe Forte. Inspired in part by the events of September 11, 2001, and how that airplanes had been turned into weapons on that tragic day, Forte explains how he felt it would be interesting to see how someone’s life could be turned inside out by the very things they use to try and protect themselves. It runs a shade over three minutes.
Score : 4.5 / 10