Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Robert Patrick, Robert Forster, Alan Arkin
Director: Richard Loncraine
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 105 Minutes
Release Date: June 6, 2006

“You’ll get the money when I GET MY FAMILY!”

Film ***

Before my initial review, I must share with you a funny anecdote…

Recently, a friend of mine told me of a video clip he saw on iFilm.com. It was a mock trailer for a Harrison Ford movie. Actually what was included in the trailer were clips from many of Ford’s films strung together to create one giant and crucial plotline; his wife and/or family is in serious jeopardy. I won’t forget the synopsis that was included with the clip. It read, Ever notice that Harrison Ford seems the make the same movie over and over again?

Of the movies used in this spoof, Frantic, The Fugitive, Presumed Innocent, The Devil’s Own, Air Force One, Patriot Games and even the god-awful Random Hearts were featured. I can’t tell you how many times the lines “Where’s my wife?” or “Where’s my family?” were uttered in different scenes. It’s amazing that I wasn’t able to pick up on this before watching this video, titled “Wife Force One”.

What’s even crazier is that many of the scenes featured in the ridiculously hilarious video were right out of Ford’s latest movie, Firewall. The movie has Ford playing a character who’s wife and family are thrown in a horrifying predicament when they are held hostage by a cold-blooded mastermind. However, in spite of the reoccurring plot scenario that Ford seems to always find himself in, Firewall comes off as an air tight thriller and there so much going on in the plot to keep you intrigued and entertained on a high level.

Ford plays Jack Stanfield, the head of security for the networking branch of a big city bank. He’s the one who helped design the computer system and firewall to specifically prevent any threat of fraud from crossing the bank’s path. One evening after work, Jack is introduced through a business partner to a banker named Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) who has an intriguing proposition.

The meeting goes well, but it isn’t until afterward that Cox reveals his true identity. He gets in Jack’s car, holds him at gunpoint, and shows a picture from his cell phone of Jack’s daughter screaming. It turns out, Cox is a criminal mastermind, and his goons have taken Jack’s wife and two children hostage during the course of the alleged business meeting.

Cox has concocted an elaborate plan to steal money from Jack’s bank, which is supposed to be impossible. But he will need one essential asset in the robbery; the very man who designed the computer system. Jack must cooperate with Cox or else he and his family will suffer horrendously. To ensure Jack’s full cooperation, Cox’s tech thugs strap audio and video devices on him to wear when he goes to work the next day.

Firewall is definitive proof that no matter how many times you’ve seen this plot formula before, there’s still plenty of excitement to be had. Right from the get-go, Jack tries to find a way to save his family, but Cox is on his every move. One such chilling scene has Jack desperately trying to email someone for help, only to have that message deleted and replaced with the words, I THOUGHT WE HAD AN AGREEMENT, JACK!.

Adding more juice to the complex heist plot is the fact that Jack’s bank is about to merge with another bank, resulting in an uptight and suspicious bureaucrat (Robert Patrick) watching his every move. And additional traps come into play as the film progresses. Jack has gone through too much by way of his captors that when he finally decides to retaliate, you can’t help but to root for him, even if it means he has to toy with Cox’s money as the wife and children have been abducted.

The most entertaining ingredient in Firewall is the way Harrison Ford and Paul Bettany play off one another. Ford is a pro in roles like this, and is the guy everyone wants to root for. Having the suave and ultra-cool Bettany cast as the heavy was a stroke of genius. Bettany delivers such a cold and calculating quality in his character, so much to the point that at times it seems that Jack is pretty much doomed. Bettany is now in talks to play The Joker in the next Batman movie. He’s certainly got my vote!

And you have to give it to Harrison Ford. For a guy who’s about to turn 64 and saddle up once more as Indiana Jones, he is able to execute some brutal fight scenes with the speed of a 20 year old. The climatic mano a mano between him and Bettany includes so many close up shots of Ford hitting the ground face first, which left me astonished. Other than Clint Eastwood, I don’t think we’ve seen a person at that age in superb action mode, even though I may be forgetting a certain Texas Ranger by the name of Walker.

To sum it up, if you’re a sucker for these kinds of thrillers like I am, then Firewall is a movie that will get the job done entirely. It’s a well executed, tremendously performed, and intense thriller. If you happen to work at a bank, I’m sure you’ll find it even more terrifying.

Video ****

Warner executes a knockout piece of video quality with this release. The anamorphic picture consists of nothing but sharply crisp picture quality. The film carries equal doses of daytime and nighttime shots, both of which come off terrifically. Colors are nothing short of fantastic, as well. In short, one visually engaging presentation.

Audio ****

Suspense thrillers are always a treat on DVD, and Warner keeps the tradition alive with a most remarkable 5.1 mix. Right from the opening credit sequence, which plays one of my favorite songs, “Angel” by Massive Attack, the intense feel of the movie never lets up thanks to the superb sound quality. Dialogue delivery is terrifically clear, music playback is strongly performed, and the many scenes of jolting suspense result in many highlight moments.

Features **

The disc includes two featurettes; “Firewall Decoded: A Conversation with Harrison Ford and Richard Loncraine”, which makes for an insightful listen about how the movie came together. The second is a curiously short featurette titled “Firewall: Writing a Thriller”, which briefly examines how writer Joe Forte came up with the idea for the screenplay. Also included is a theatrical trailer.


It may not be anything we haven’t seen before, but Firewall is a tightly crafted suspense thriller. It’s one movie that does not bore and has plenty of excitement and thrills to spare.

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