Depending on how many thrillers you've seen in the past ten or so years, "Firewall" may seem like the greatest thing since "The Manchurian Candidate" or a rehash of every amateurishly written B-movie, Blockbuster-dustbin thriller ever made. Naturally, for me, it would be the latter.
I could make a list a mile long of the films from which "Firewall" steals. Among the recent ones are "Hostage," "Panic Room," "Ransom" and "Trapped," so it's no surprise that everything here seems familiar. Adding to the creative echo is the fact that Harrison Ford's character is named Jack Stanfield and his assistant, Janet Stone, is played by Mary Lynn Rajskub, who happens to play Chloe on "24," another performance during which she says "Jack" repeatedly and another show where a guy named "Jack" has his family kidnapped.
Jack is the VP of security at some Seattle bank, having installed every security protocol and computer upgrade known to man. So, instead of doing a normal bank robbery, Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) kidnaps Stanfield's family and forces Stanfield to transfer twenty million into some account somewhere, presumably to pay off the referees in Super Bowl XL.
The robbers are typical of the kind of boneheads who always try to steal things in the movies. Bill seems moderately competent, but has recruited several saps for his team who are worn down by the cuteness of Stanfield's kids and the pleadings of his wife, Beth (Virginia Madsen). One of those kids, little Andy (Jimmy Bennett), has a peanut allergy, which is typical of this kind of film. Either the kid is asthmatic or claustrophobic or is sensitive to leather furniture or something that will come into play later where the bad guy will threaten "do what I say or I will throw your son on that leather couch and watch him suffer!" forcing everyone to scream "no! stop!" and the father to capitulate while clearly shifting his eyes to signal that he is working on a master plan to save his family.
Harrison Ford has that everyman "studly yet slightly vulnerable" thing down to such a degree that one envisions ad executives lined up just off-screen with contracts for him to sell Viagra, multivitamins and hair coloring. He looks just young enough to be believable as an action hero and just old enough to seem rickety. One believes he could beat up a man half his age, but would probably hurt his back in the process. However, why can't Hollywood find a suitable spouse for its male stars? They continue to inflict prostate-swollen geezers like Ford, 63, on younger women like Virginia Madsen, 42. In quite a few southern states, Ford is old enough to be her grandfather.
Don't get trapped behind this "Firewall."
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