Are there any Harrison Ford fans still out there? It has been three years since his last film, and six years since any of his movies was a hit—and in that particular film, the ghost story What Lies Beneath, he played second banana to Michelle Pfeiffer. So there is an air of desperation about Firewall, a sense that Ford needed to make this movie just to keep his face in the public eye, lest we think he had fallen off the planet altogether.
It is significant that Ford's first movie in years is not one of those serious dramas or offbeat comedies that he used to make whenever he wanted to prove that there was more to him than stunts and action sequences. Instead, Firewall is a back-to-the-basics thriller that echoes several of Ford's better-known films, such as Patriot Games and Air Force One. Once again, bad guys threaten his wife and children, and he does all the growling and punching that it takes to keep his family safe. The climactic fight scenes, which feature imperiled children and take place in an isolated locale, are reminiscent of Witness; and there are even elements of The Fugitive. But by bringing those other films to mind, Firewall underscores its own weaknesses; it simply lacks the firepower, the iconic status, the cultural subtext and the engaging supporting actors that made Ford's other suspense flicks so much fun.
The basic set-up is as potboiler as it gets. Ford plays Jack Stanfield, a security-systems specialist whose home is invaded—and whose family is taken hostage—by a team of armed criminals intent on coercing Jack into helping them steal millions of dollars. (Jack's son is even played by Jimmy Bennett, who had almost the exact same role in last year's Hostage.) At first, everything seems ...1
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