2006 - PG-13 - 100 Mins.
|Director: Richard Loncraine|
|Producer: Armyan Bernstein, Basil Iwanyk, Jonathan Shestack|
|Written By: Joe Forte|
|Starring: Harrison Ford, Virginia Madsen, Paul Bettany, Robert Patrick, Mary Lynn Rajskub |
|Review by: Ben Samara
|Official Site: firewallmovie.warnerbros.com|
There has been a lot of talk recently about Harrison Ford’s upcoming sequel to ‘Indiana Jones.’ It’s been 17 years since ‘The Last Crusade’ graced theater screens and sometimes it seems like the fourth installment has been in the works for just as long. The sticking point, they say, has always been the film’s script, which has gone through countless revisions and rewrites over the years. It’s obvious that Ford wants to have the final say and he won’t accept anything but the best from his writers.
Given that information, one has to wonder if Ford is too worried about getting the perfect script for ‘Indiana Jones’ to bother reading the screenplays for films like ‘Firewall’ before signing on. His latest film takes painting by the numbers to new levels, mixing old action-movie clichés with an uninspired vision.
In ‘Firewall,’ Ford plays a bank security specialist named Jack Stanfield. When a heartless crook (Paul Bettany) kidnaps his family, Stanfield is forced to steal from his own company to keep them alive. If you’ve seen the trailer you already know what happens next, because it gave the entire movie away from start to finish in only two minutes.
The cast of ‘Firewall’ does its best to compensate for writer Joe Forte’s weak screenplay, but it’s obvious they’re all just collecting their paychecks here. Forte’s only other writing credit is for 2003’s ‘Say I Do’ and his latest work displays the full extent of his inexperience. Half of the time ‘Firewall’ comes off as a rip-off, as Forte seemingly picks and chooses characters and plot points from his favorite action films. The rest of the time the film seems like some sort of parody, with its corny dialogue and ultra stereotypical situations.
In ‘Firewall,’ Ford manages to do a pretty good impression of characters from his previous projects, specifically ‘Air Force One.’ It seems the sixty-year-old superstar has honed the art of the gruff look and raspy voice and made it his trademark. Toward the climax, there are several moments when you expect him to stand up and shout “Get off my plane!”
Luckily, Ford is at a point in his career where he can just coast if he wants to. Unfortunately, Forte’s script also forces Oscar-nominee Virginia Madsen to play a supportive wife character that may set women in film back at least fifty years. When Ford’s Jack tells Madsen’s character she should get a hobby, she actually replies, “My hobby is to take care of you.”
Then there’s Mary Lynn Rajskub, who is best known for her role as Chloe on the hit TV series ’24.’ Here, she plays none other than Chloe from the hit TV series ’24.’ Actually, she’s supposed to be playing Jack Stanfield’s secretary, Janet, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Everything is the same, from her scowling expression down to her eye movements. Perhaps Rajskub is just like that in real life and isn’t acting at all, or maybe Forte and director Richard Loncraine are just big fans of the show. Either way, as the story heated up I was still expecting Jack Bauer and CTU to come busting through the door to save the day rather than caring about any of the actual characters.
‘Firewall’ is supposed to be a thriller, but the film’s problem is that it’s not thrilling for more than a few scenes. Apart from a surprisingly exciting final ten minutes, the film is actually pretty dull. We’re never engaged by these characters because they’re all merely one-dimensional composites of other characters we’ve seen before. We’re never intrigued by the storyline because it’s just an amalgamated mess of other thrillers we’ve seen in the past. There’s nothing new here in the way of ingenuity or originality. It’s not that the film is poorly executed or directed, just that it’s been executed and directed so many times before.
With that said, some moviegoers don’t care about any of the things I’ve just mentioned. If you want to go see Harrison Ford kick some ass for 100 minutes, by all means do so. You know what you’re getting and you may even like it if mindless action retreads are your style. There are better, more entertaining action films out there, though. You’ll see parts of all of them in ‘Firewall,’ but the copycat is rarely superior to the original.