Ally Melling

New flick predictable, but not all bad


Credit: Carl Schierhorn

A family held hostage. A pack of ruthless criminals. An over-the-hill Han Solo torn between not being victimized and the love for his family.

Does this sound familiar, anyone?

No, it’s not Air Force One, but it’s not far off. It’s the newest Harrison Ford movie, Firewall.

In this particular action thriller, Ford plays Jack (Stanfield this time, not Jack Ryan), an executive in charge of security at a worldwide banking firm. Jack enjoys an all-too-perfect life with his loving wife (Sideways‘ Virginia Madsen), two children and expensive seaside home.

The Stanfield family’s carefree existence is rudely interrupted by a pack of intruders led by Paul Bettany (Wimbledon, A Beautiful Mind). Bettany and his technologically savvy gang use Jack’s family as leverage and force Jack to hack into the banking security system he designed. Jack’s every move and conversation is monitored, leaving him scrambling for a way to save his family and keep the attackers from walking away with $100 million.

Throughout the film, Firewall maintains a stable quality equal to a carousel horse. One scene will fall into a cheesy moment bordering on embarrassing while the next presents gripping tension and unpredictability.


Starring Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany and Virginia Madsen

Directed by Richard Loncrain

Released by Warner Bros.

Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence

Stater rating (out of five): ***

There are dialogue and plot flaws strong enough to make an audience cover its eyes out of something more than suspense. Not to spoil anything, but let’s just say all of the protagonist’s efforts to save his family fall short of modern technology and a pooch. And, rather than “Get off my plane,” Ford suffices with the catch phrase “I’m going to look for my dog!”

The music of the film is a fiasco from start to finish. The opening credits feature the same, worn out Massive Attack song everyone uses, and the score is repeatedly too dramatic and distracting.

However, there are great sequences in Firewall that make it worthy of a ticket purchase. Scenes where the family tries to undermine the villains pull the audience out of its seat in anticipation. The action is well-filmed and enthralling. The head games between Bettany and Ford’s characters are entertaining.

But the real highlight of the film is Bettany himself. Elegantly suave and mercilessly cold, Bettany portrays an intelligent villain with ease reminiscent of Alan Rickman in Die Hard. His character has no qualms about shooting his own men or giving little children allergic reactions.

As if Bettany’s performance was not lovable enough, he also exerts a convincing charm that both thrills and revolts the audience throughout the entire film.

Ford also maintains his signature screen power as the good force that will not tolerate losing the fight. However, in Firewall it becomes apparent his presence as an action star is starting to ferment like wine. Fans waiting for the new Indiana Jones sequel are beginning to cross their fingers and hope it gets completed before it is too late.

Before the flak starts to fly, make no mistake that I honor Ford whole-heartedly (or at least up until Random Hearts). Blade Runner and Witness are all that need to be said for my defense. Still, some movie choices just can’t be overlooked, despite an impressive history. And while Firewall has great moments (and is definitely a step up from Hollywood Homicide), there is still a yearning for the Ford films of yesterday.

Contact ALL correspondent Ally Melling at [email protected].