Stringed Instrument

“Firewall” stars Harrison Ford as Jack Stanfield, the token good guy who heads a bank’s security department. Paul Bettany plays Bill Cox, the villain who schemes to use Jack as a puppet. Bill wants lots of bank money and he believes Jack is instrumental in getting it for him. And poor Jack has to do Bill’s bidding. His strings are being pulled because Bill is keeping his family hostage.

The movie is not that bad, but it’s rather tame for a thriller. The cool and collected villain is such a cliché in thrillers nowadays. I like Bettany but he’s got nothing to work with here. We know nothing about him, except being cunning – which is already a given in the stereotypical role. And I hate those little hints that happen to be too convenient to the plot. What do you think happens to Jack’s son who’s allergic to nuts? And does Mrs. Stanfield (Virginia Madsen) need to be an architect, so she knows more about the house than the bad guys?

Harrison Ford certainly elevates the movie and sometimes he suggests nuances the screenplay might not have intended. Jack is supposed to be this innocent guy forced to do bad things. But there are scenes when you feel Jack has buried frustration or contempt towards his co-workers. Given the opportunity, I’m sure he’d quit being nice. Such a direction would have made the story better and layered. But “Firewall” isn’t risky enough and ties the ending so neatly with a nice big bow. I’d rather have entangled yarn of tale of thrills – it’s more interesting to unravel.

Grade: C+

Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Robert Patrick, Robert Forster, and Alan Arkin
Screenplay by
Joe Forte
Directed by
Richard Loncraine
Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence