on February 10, 2006 by Wade Major
There's a scene early in "Firewall" in which veteran bank security specialist Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) reacts with righteous indignation at the suggestion, by the architect of their impending acquisition (Robert Patrick), that a certain amount of fraud is simply a cost of doing business. Ironically, that's precisely the lame- duck studio philosophy that allowed this infuriating fraud of a movie to be foisted onto the public. It's a timely fraud, too, in view of Hollywood's current soul- searching (long overdue) regarding the ongoing flight of moviegoers. To appreciate precisely what ails the film business at this point in time, one need look no further than this catastrophic misfire.

Second-hand thrillers that cannibalize earlier, better films almost always turn out poorly, their mismatched pieces stitched together with contrivance, happenstance and illogic to form ugly narrative Frankensteins. The Richard Loncraine-directed "Firewall" is a classic example of this approach, borrowing liberally from previous Ford thrillers -- "The Fugitive," "Frantic," "Air Force One," "Patriot Games" -- as well as such genre staples as "Die Hard." But in grafting these elements together, screenwriter Joe Forte -- who claims this film as his first "produced" screenplay -- makes the even more fatal mistake of concentrating his efforts on the setups, creating so many loose ends that attempts to eventually resolve them grow more and more preposterous by the minute. It's irritating enough that every little detail is a planted setup for some later payoff, but it's absolutely intolerable when the film's most crucial turning point hinges on something as incomprehensibly stupid as a GPS-enabled dog collar.

There's little use in discussing the plot beyond the vaguest description of its premise -- mindful of the security wall Stanfield has created for the bank, a high- tech thief named Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) and his gang of thugs take hostage Stanfield's wife (Virginia Madsen) and two children (Carly Schroeder and Jimmy Bennett), promising to kill them unless he helps them hatch their plan to steal $100 million. Of course, things don't go as planned and the baddies -- like all other such baddies before them -- end up ruing the day they dared go mano-a-mano with the erstwhile Indiana Jones.

This is the kind of role through which Harrison Ford used to sleepwalk, and his effort here is no different, though this time the audience may be joining him. Predictable from the start, Forte's script marches dutifully through its Sid Field-appointed paces, never deviating from the gospel formula by which such films are supposed to become blockbusters: A-list star + formula screenplay + big budget + name supporting cast + serviceable director = hit. The result here isn't likely to come anywhere close to a hit, but at least it rhymes with it. Starring Harrison Ford, Virginia Madsen, Paul Bettany, Robert Forster, Alan Arkin and Robert Patrick. Directed by Richard Loncraine. Written by Joe Forte. Produced by Armyan Bernstein, Jonathan Shestack and Basil Iwanyk. A Warner Bros. release. Thriller. Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence. Running time: 100 min

Tags: No Tags

read all Reviews »


No comments were posted.

What do you think?