Firewall has the distinct “honor” of being the first press screening I’ve attended in 2006, and the theater wasn’t really filled. But there was a reason for that. 84 year-old Harrison Ford was last seen in the big-budget flop, Hollywood Homicide, where he played a cop investigating the slow death of his acting career. Now Ford takes the shock paddles to his career, and before you can shout “clear!”, zaps himself into the role of Jack Stanfield, a security specialist at a bank.
Bad guy Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) holds Stanfield and his family hostage, forcing him to use his high-tech skills to rob the very bank he’s been protecting. While the whole thing is a little contrived, parts of the scheme are kinda neat, although seeing Ford lumber around trying to comply with Bettany and work his way out of the situation made me a bit nostalgic for the good old days when Ford was really believable in a role.
The coup-de-grace is the big fight at the end, where director Richard Loncraine (Richard III) shows his complete lack of faith in his stunt choreographer and cameramen, and goes for one of the most shoddily presented fights I’ve seen on screen. Then again, now that I think about it, maybe the reason he had to do that was because if he had provided us with long master takes, we’d see how dull Ford’s action chops have gotten.
I think the kid who plays Ford’s son, Jimmy Bennett, is quickly surpassing Dakota Fanning in the “Most Annoying Child Actor” category. Now I have yet another reason to be wary of Poseidon. To be fair, he wasn’t that bad in Hostage, but it felt like he was reprising his role here, but unlike in Hostage, he was just a passive victim, who of course was so stupid that he starts to like the bad guys, who just want to kill him. Dumb kid.
Speaking of Hostage, Alexandre Desplat did the score for Firewall, and I really dug what I had heard at the scoring session. I think the album – which comes out next week – will be a good listen. Desplat is surely on his way to being A-list, but he’s got to do good Hollywood films.
Firewall wasn’t a bad movie – it just wasn’t very good. It took the easy, cliched way out, and didn’t do anything we hadn’t seen before. When they threaten to break the son’s knees, why not actually do it? In a film where only the bad guys die (okay, and one other guy), it would have been much more tense to know that these guys meant business, if they killed off the son (or daughter, or wife). We would have all gasped, and then thought, “holy crap – these guys are dangerous!” Instead, we all know what’s going to happen at the end of the movie when we still have 90 minutes left.
Oh yeah – and I’m tired of movies that have “tech-speak”, and a laptop that seems to last for 12 hours without charging, and has Wi-Fi on the road. (Small thing here, but if you drive for like 12 hours east of Seattle, don’t you end up in the middle of Montana??) I think people in Hollywood need to realize (and fast), that if the movie doesn’t work on paper, it won’t work on screen. But hey – it’s a Harrison Ford movie, and there are some entertaining moments – so spend your money carefully!