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"Firewall"

Directed by Richard Loncraine.
Written by Joe Forte.
Starring Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  2/19/06

Folks-- 

Sometimes, you do a favor to your movie heroes, and in the case of Harrison Ford, I find myself sitting in a movie theater every time he puts out a movie, no matter how bad it looks.

Case in point:  "Hollywood Homicide", the last theatrical release for Ford, three years ago.  I still remember sitting in the theater with my friend Melissa "Candy" Kern, laughing our asses off at how awful that flick was...our only true moment of excitement came during one of the stunts, where a guy fell on top of an outdoor vendor stand--it looked like the stuntman broke his back.  Otherwise, I sat there openly mocking the sad state of Ford's film career, and wondered if he should just hang it up.

"Firewall" is a better film than "Hollywood Homicide", but it still begs the question:  when should Han Solo hang up his Everyman-that-needs-to-get-violent shoes?  This go-round, he plays bank network security expert Jack Stanfield, a man with a beautiful wife (Virginia Madsen), two kids, a big house in the 'burbs of Seattle and a pretty hot Chrysler 300C.  Unfortunately, he also has a group of thugs out to steal money from the bank to deal with, led by the mysterious Bill Cox (Paul Bettany).  These bandits have been spying on Jack's life for weeks, and they have covered every angle on how to infiltrate his life, so when they show up on Jack's doorstep to kidnap his family and hold his life hostage until he meets the bad guys' demands, it's go time to turn the tables and make those bad men pay for fucking with Indiana Jones!!!

I'll admit that "Firewall" does give you that familiar glimmer of hope early on that it will turn into something by the end; the setup is great, and although it was absolutely implausible to me that Ford would be playing a genius computer expert (to establish his expert status, he shows this Indian guy in the security office how to write one line of code that will apparently stop international hackers from infiltrating the bank...yeah, right), director Richard Loncraine ("Richard III", "Wimbledon") keeps the pacing up once Jack first discovers he's in trouble and masks the fact that the film will get sloppy later on.  The film has surprisingly strong B-listers in supporting parts (Robert Patrick, "Jackie Brown" Oscar nominee Robert Forster, Alan Arkin, Madsen), so for the most part, the performances are good, although I don't know who decided that "24"'s Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe) was a wise choice to play Jack's secretary.  It was somewhat entertaining to watch Jack figure a way out of his situation, at least when it was about hosing Cox and his men out of the $100 million they were trying to steal.

Unfortunately, the film's last 20 minutes are horseshit, and hinge on technology that I've never heard of in order to track down Cox and Jack's kidnapped family...even getting beyond this, the action finale was awful too, as once again Ford plays a character that happens to be a great fist fighter with the ability to take down guys half his age or outwit men with big machine guns.  Ford can play this character in his sleep, and even though he seems to be in great shape for his age (63), seeing him play this part over and over doesn't seem to be getting any more interesting as time flies by.

You know, "Firewall" isn't bad, but at the end of the day, I would imagine that Ford knew that when he signed on, strange that Ford is still doing "paycheck" movies like this after such a long and established career.  When is he going to do a change-of-pace indie, or a character-heavy all-star drama?  Sad.

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09