[Moving picture of popcorn]

Laramie Movie Scope: Firewall

Standard suspense movie

[Strip of film rule]
by Robert Roten, Film Critic
[Strip of film rule]

May 2, 2006 -- “Firewall” is a mediocre suspense movie which uses the cheap trick of putting children in danger to amp up the anxiety. At every level, the script fails to take advantage of opportunities to build on the strengths of it's characters. Instead, it descends into one action movie cliché after another.

Harrison Ford stars as Jack Stanfield, head of security for a large bank corporation. Crooks break into his house and take his wife and children hostage, threatening to kill them unless he transfers money from the bank's wealthy clients to a secret off-shore account. The plan is very well thought-out, but there are unforseen snags because a larger bank has recently bought the company that Stanfield works for. The kidnappers, led by Bill Cox (“Master and Commander”) demand that Stanfield devise an alternate plan to get the money. Stanfield knows it is just a matter of time before the crooks kill him and his family. He plots a way to escape.

The keys to a good suspense movie are good villains and a fast pace. This film has a good villain in the slick Bill Cox, but the pace is too slow. This gives the audience plenty of time to notice all the holes in the plot, and there are many. Both Cox and Stanfield are very smart characters, but the film doesn't take enough advantage of this. In the end, it deteriorates into a fist fight. Harrison Ford is getting too old to be doing this action hero stuff. It would have been more interesting if Stanfield had beat the villains with his mind instead of his fists. It would also have been more in character.

The movie is peopled with a lot of TV actors, including my favorite actress from “24” Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Stanfield's secretary. Robert Patrick of “The Unit” plays one of Stanfield's new bosses. Carly Schroeder of the “Lizzie McGuire” TV show plays Stanfield's daughter. Virginia Madsen plays Stanfield's wife. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Wimbeldon”) shows a strong screen presence in the bad-guy role of Liam. The talents of a couple of great veteran actors, Alan Arkin and Robert Forster are pretty much wasted in minor roles as banking executives. Ditto for Virginia Madsen, who was so good in the film “Sideways.” The movie runs along a time-worn path at a leisurely pace and holds few surprises. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

[Strip of film rule]
Copyright © 2006 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
[Strip of film rule]
Back to the Laramie Movie Scope index.
[Rule made of Seventh Seal sillouettes]

Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)