Ford not quite on Fire in latest release

by Beacon Staff • February 8, 2006

Ford, however, must have been somewhat desperate to take on a role when he agreed to participate in the production of Firewall, a predictable yet entertaining story that allows no room for character development of any kind-hardly a challenge for an actor.,Harrison Ford has wooed viewers in America with his charms ever since he hit it big with the original Star Wars trilogy.

Ford, however, must have been somewhat desperate to take on a role when he agreed to participate in the production of Firewall, a predictable yet entertaining story that allows no room for character development of any kind-hardly a challenge for an actor.

Jack Stanfield (Ford) is a prominent bank software designer. He has a wonderful family and a seemingly perfect life-until the criminally inclined Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) decides to hold his family hostage, and Jack has to hack into his secure banking software to transfer $100 million into Cox's offshore accounts.

What's the catch?

In the meantime, the bank Jack works at is merging with another company and his coworker (Robert Patrick) begins to suspect Jack of embezzling money.

Under constant surveillance, Jack must make a decision: submit to Cox's plan or do everything he can to save both his family and his reputation.

Firewall is entertaining, though almost entirely predictable, which is typical of action/suspense films released in early February.

The most disappointing aspect of the movie was the lack of character development. At times, Bettany begins to show a hint of duality in the villainous Cox; nothing, however, comes of it.

The others are just as bland.

Virginia Madsen plays Ford's onscreen wife Beth. Her popularity has grown since her role as Maya in Sideways; however, anyone familiar with that film will likely find her portrayal of Beth Stanfield flat and uninteresting.

Her character falls into the role of the "dependable wife," waiting docilely while Jack makes all the big decisions and participating in his dangerous escape plans no matter how unlikely they may be to succeed.

These far-fetched plans were perhaps one of the most annoying aspects of the film.

Every time Jack dreamt up yet another wild scheme, things got worse, not better. It was difficult to feel sympathetic toward the continuous failures; the family is being held hostage in their own comfortable home, and in two days it will be all over with no danger to the family as long as they cooperate.

Instead, clumsy risks are taken that result in misery for the Stanfield's.

Eventually, Jack states that he has a feeling Bettany's character is going to kill them all, no matter what. This seemed to be a ridiculous claim, for the character of Cox did not at first appear sufficiently violent. Instead, he looks like a professional "executive criminal" who has no intention of harming anyone as long as he gets his money.

About halfway through the movie, he becomes a typical reckless killer. There is no shift between the two personas; it feels as though the writers needed to add some thrilling scenes, and in order to make that a possibility, they thoughtlessly manipulated Cox's former semi-complex character.

One of the only redeeming qualities of the movie was the acting skills of the Stanfield children. Carly Schroeder plays Sarah, an iPod loving, strong willed girl, with Jimmy Bennett as her impressionable younger brother Andrew.

Though both actors are relatively unknown (Schroeder appeared on "Lizzie McGuire"), they add a great dimension of realism to the family.

While Sarah is fearful and resentful of the invaders, Andrew, a young boy of about eight, seems somewhat smitten with them. This willingness to trust the invaders leads to a frightening confrontation and one of the most tense scenes in the whole film.

Similarly, one of the most poignant lines in the movie is delivered in a scene between Sarah and one of the men guarding them. Sarah asks him, "Why do you hate us so much?" while the bodyguard replies, "I don't hate you, I just don't care about you."

The last thirty or so minutes of Firewall were quite entertaining.

Though lacking any sort of subtlety or realism, it was definitely fun to see the struggle of The All American Family vs. The Intellectual Villain. The last scene of the movie is, to those with a slight tendency toward cynicism, hilarious.

The screening of Firewall took place at Loews Boston Common, and afterward Ford himself was present for a brief question and answer session. Looking much more svelte than his onscreen character, he calmly answered various inquiries from fans, and even sang "Happy Birthday" to Emerson freshman acting major Laura Dadap.

Overall, Firewall was a disappointment. Its lack of complex characters and an original storyline made the experience of viewing the film inauthentic and uninspiring.

If you are looking for a mindless good time, you may want to check this one out, as it is quite an entertaining movie. But if you want intellectual stimulation, steer clear.