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Richard Loncraine
Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Robert Patrick, Robert Forster, Alan Arkin
Writing Credits:
Joe Forte

Everything He Loves Is About To Be Used Against Him.

Firewall stars Harrison Ford as bank security expert Jack Stanfield, whose specialty is designing infallible theft-proof financial computer systems. But there's a hidden vulnerability in the system he didn't account for - himself. When a ruthless criminal mastermind (Paul Bettany) kidnaps his family, Jack is forced to find a flaw in his system and steal $100 million. With the lives of his wife and children at stake and under constant surveillance, he has only hours to find a loophole in the thief's own impenetrable system of subterfuge and false identities to beat him at his own game.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$13.635 million on 2840 screens.
Domestic Gross
$48.745 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 105 min.
Price: $28.98
Release Date: 6/6/2006

• ďFirewall Decoded: A Conversation with Harrison Ford and Richard LoncraineĒ
• ďFirewall: Writing a ThrillerĒ
• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Firewall (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 25, 2006)

One day youíre the biggest actor in the world, and the next you canít buy a hit to save your life. Throughout the years, this malady has affected most major stars, and Harrison Ford has not proven immune. He remained on or near the top for many years, but heís struggled over the last decade or so. 2000ís What Lies Beneath was his last genuine success, as his releases since then have essentially tanked. Granted, he didnít make many flicks over the last six years, but the efforts in which he did appear failed to endear him to the public.

As his first flick since 2003ís Hollywood Homicide, 2006ís Firewall served as an attempt at a comeback for the 63-year-old Ford. It hearkened back to the meat and potatoes, butt-kicking Ford we knew and loved. Unfortunately, it didnít make much of an impression on moviegoers, as it stalled with a mediocre gross of $48 million.

Thatís not what we expect from an ďAĒ-list star like Ford. Well, maybe if he ever makes the fourth Indiana Jones flick, he might return to the top of the charts.

An attempt to be semi-timely, Firewall introduces us to Jack Stanfield (Ford) and his family. The clan includes wife Beth (Virginia Madsen), early teen daughter Sarah (Carly Schroeder) and eight-year-old son Andy (Jimmy Bennett). Jack works as a computer security expert at a small Seattle-based banking chain.

Despite his pedigree in his field, Jack finds out that someone stole his identity and racked up $95,000 of online gambling debts. Matters turn worse when assailants bust into the house and tie up Beth and the kids. This occurs while Jack has drinks with Bill Cox (Paul Bettany), a guy who wants to hire Stanfield for his security talents. It turns out that was all a ruse to keep Jack from his home while the forces Cox leads secure the house.

Cox comes home with Jack and dictates his terms. Either Jack lifts $100 million from the system he designed or Cox will kill Beth and the kids. The movie follows all of the complications along the way as Jack tries to foil the crooks and keep his family alive.

At no point does Firewall require Ford to stretch any acting muscles. This is the kind of role he could do in his sleep. Indeed, at times, I think he did perform in his sleep, as Ford doesnít show a lot of fire here. Some of that may stem from his age; at 63, Fordís not exactly an action hero spring chicken. He growls a lot but canít muster any emotional range beyond that.

However, a lot of the actorís loginess may result simply from the predictable nature of the story. Granted, it offers a modern, high-tech twist on matters. As I noted earlier, the whole identity theft notion makes the situation timely, but it doesnít take much advantage of that theme.

Instead, Firewall acts as a pretty standard action thriller. Ford does his standard Solid American Everyman character. He loves his wife and kids and has no actual personality or depth beyond that. The villain is more complicated, though not any less predictable. Bill comes from the Hans Gruber school of baddies. He doesnít present obvious menace, as he prefers the more suave side of things. This probably beats the usual dark approach to things, but it doesnít feel particularly creative.

The same goes for everything about Firewall, and itís a shame. The movie could have explored identity theft but it chooses to stick with a vaguely high-tech twist on a kidnapping heist story. The opening credits hint at an Orwellian take on matters, but the flick itself never bothers to expand past standard thriller constraints.

This means that while Firewall never really falters, it also fails to truly engage. It find it hard to select aspects of the film that flop, as it maintains a reasonable pace and a decent amount of tension. Unfortunately, I simply feel like Iíve already seen this movie about 100 times. Thereís nothing new to be found here.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

Firewall appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While the transfer never glimmered, it seemed more than adequate.

Sharpness usually came across well. A little edge enhancement occasionally made wide shots slightly soft, but this wasnít a real problem. Most of the movie displayed good definition and delineation. I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and I also found no source flaws.

Firmly house-or-office-bound most of the time, Firewall displayed a rather drab, brown palette. I didnít have a problem with that, however, since it matched the logical production design. Colors were perfectly fine given the visual constraints. Blacks also seemed dense and firm, while the many low-light shots presented nice clarity. Given the movieís prevalence of dark scenes, this was especially important, and the transfer pulled off those elements well. This was a solid image with no serious faults.

Similar comments greeted the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Firewall. The movie provided just enough pop when necessary to make the audio successful. Since so much of the film remained stuck in offices or a house, it didnít provide a ton of opportunities for lively material. Much of it went with music and ambience, but the mix of action sequences allowed it to spring to life at times. Those pieces presented good activity and involvement, and they also used the surrounds to satisfying effect. I couldnít come up with any real standout sequences, but I thought the mix seemed reasonably involving.

Across the board, audio quality was solid. Music showed good range and dimensionality, with clean highs and taut lows. Effects sounded lively and dynamic. They lacked distortion and also presented fine bass response. Speech was consistently accurate and crisp. Like the film itself, this was an unremarkable mix, but it did what it needed to do.

Donít expect many extras from Firewall. We discover two featurettes. Firewall Decoded: A Conversation with Harrison Ford and Richard Loncraine lasts 15 minutes, 26 seconds and offers exactly what its title indicates. A few movie shots appear, but mostly we simply see the actor and the director as they chat about the flick.

Ford and Loncraine go over stops and starts in the production, changes to the script and plot issues, their relationship on the flick, and the parts of the movie they most like. They also chat about acting and character challenges, stunts and fights, attempts at realism, and specifics of some scenes. Ford takes the lead here; if you didnít know better, youíd think he was the one who directed the film. The show becomes surprisingly deep and informative. I canít say I expected a lot from it, so the level of detail and insight pleases me. It doesnít substitute for a good commentary, but itís above average for a short featurette.

Firewall: Writing a Thriller goes for three minutes, 15 seconds. We hear from screenwriter Joe Forte as he discusses his writing process. He also goes over the nuts and bolts of Firewall and how he created it. He even tells us how he had himself kidnapped! Despite its brevity, ďThrillerĒ packs a good informative punch.

In addition to the trailer for Firewall, we get a few ads at the start of the disc. We find promos for Superman Returns and The Lady In the Water.

A relentlessly average thriller, Firewall does nothing to reignite Harrison Fordís career. The movie presents moderate entertainment across its 105 minutes, but it never threatens to become anything more than that. This is a very ďpaint by numbersĒ flick without anything special on display.

The DVD falls into the same category. We find good but not great picture and audio along with a small set of supplements. If you already like Firewall, I wonít steer you away from this disc, but I canít recommend it to others.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.625 Stars Number of Votes: 8
4 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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