Publicity Stills of "Firewall"
(Courtesy from GVP)

Genre: Action/Thriller
Director: Richard Loncraine
Starring: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Jimmy Bennett
RunTime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 13 April 2006

Synopsis :

With his family held for ransom, the head security executive for a global bank is commanded to loot his own business for millions in order to ensure his wife and children’s safety. He then faces the demanding task of thwarting the kidnapper’s grand scheme, which makes him look guilty of embezzlement.

Movie Review:

How many times have we seen the scenario where “a man is being forced to carry out the demands of his family’s kidnappers”? Recently there was Bruce Willis’s “Hostage” and even Harrison Ford had one in Air Force One. Given the formulaic scenario, the outcome will be as expected, equally predictable.

The only difference and probably the only reason to watch this is to see if it actually captivates you? Given that this movie utilizes the bank heist through computer security angles in the formulaic scenario, the movie could enthrall us in “the intricate planning of the villains” or “hero’s resourcefulness and bravery ”.

Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) is a bank’s security executive who has helped to create a firewall protection that virtually fends off all possible hackers and robbers from stealing money from the bank through cyberspace. In order to get through the bank’s firewall, the crooks storm into Jack Stanfield’s home, hold his family hostage and forced him to help them get beyond the firewall to steal $100 million dollars.

From the opening credits, viewers were shown how the crooks studied the Stanfield’s family by surveillance and even going through their rubbish, you would think that these crooks did their homework. However the biggest screwed up from the crooks was revealed pretty early during Jack’s first attempt to help the crooks rob the bank. Viewers will realize that this bunch of “computer savvy” villains haven’t actually done their homework well enough after all and at that moment, you can throw their intricate planning out of the window.

Moreover the crooks were far too lenient and kindhearted compared to the other villains from the same genre of films. For example, after taking Jack Stanfield’s family hostage, the villains choose to release Stanfield’s family back to their rooms, instead of tying them up and holding them at one common area. One might argue that this is a chance for the filmmakers to showcase the villains’ computer know-how and surveillance capabilities but that really throw the logic out of the window, making the crooks look more like they are imposing on the victims family rather than imprisoning them.

What’s worse is when Jack didn’t follow the rules set by Bill Cox (Paul Bettany), the leader chose to punish his henchman for failing to keep tabs on Jack instead of any Jack’s family members. Right at that moment, you can safely establish that harm will probably come to the crooks’ way than the victims’.

So there we have it, the villains might look menacing but there’s no bite in their bark. The uncharacteristic villainy aside, Bill Cox’s entire plan for the robbery and Jack Stanfield himself were not without any merits. He does have a trick or two up his sleeves, especially how he frames Jack Stanfield but by then it’s too late to impress.

How does our hero fare in this? Our hero, the ageing Hollywood top tier actor, Harrison Ford would most likely be the very reason to catch this movie. It’s almost like putting on the gloves that he wore once too often and had no problem in portraying the man with the burden of rescuing his family. But then there lies a problem too as viewers have seen him in movies with similar situation and pretty soon, one might wonder haven’t I seen this somewhere else before? With the weak-set up for the villains’ characters, the heroic deeds weren’t as exemplified as it had the potential with Harrison Ford.

Firewall would probably be more entertaining if one does not analyze too much into the characters motivation and methods used. Just go with the flow of the movie and you won’t encounter so many plot holes or have much difficulty in enjoying this film as this reviewer did.

Movie Rating:

("Firewall" failed to protect the viewers’ interest)

Review by Richard Lim Jr



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