FIREWALL. A somewhat undercooked thriller

Once again, it turned out that even for a tried-and-tested formula, you need someone more than an average craftsman.

Darek Kuźma

2 March 2024

FIREWALL. A somewhat undercooked thriller

Once again, it turned out that a reheated cutlet, no matter how seasoned, is much less tasty than a fresh one.

For some time now, a rather disturbing trend has been noticeable in cinema. Many great and well-known actors have been performing with increasingly poor results in productions that can euphemistically be called mediocre. The fact that many are starring in so-called less ambitious productions would still be bearable, but the problem is that more and more of these films can’t even be called good entertainment; they’re just plain average or worse. Nobody expects every actor to play in a hit or an existential treatise on the universe all the time, but for christ’s sake ladies and gentlemen…. Even Han Solo himself, Harrison Ford, has joined this infamous group, despite appearing in only one film every now and then, it seems like he’s only doing it to cash a hefty check and maintain his face in the Hollywood firmament.  The actor’s last decent film was “K-19: The Widowmaker” from 2002… Firewall

Firewall Harrison Ford Paul Bettany

Anyway, the subject of this review is the actor’s latest product entitled Firewall, where our old man plays a computer network specialist (what?!), and even at one point, a brilliant hacker (whaaaat?!!!). The film, to put it mildly, is unfortunately another “mediocre” production in the actor’s filmography, from which he should not be satisfied. It is an unbearably schematic picture, based on ideas from thrillers from at least a quarter of a century ago, which would still be palatable if only it was done with some idea and flair. The pain is that director Richard Loncraine (creator of the mediocre rom-com Wimbledon) probably didn’t intend to do anything better, but only to promote his own name on Ford’s still hot. As a result, we have a completely derivative product devoid of any cinematic magic…

Firewall Harrison Ford Mary Lynn Rajskub

The whole thing is based on the well-known formula of good versus evil, where our main character is suddenly thrown into a whirlwind of action and events he doesn’t fully understand. He must fight the unknown, gradually uncovering more elements of the puzzle as the film progresses. Why did all this have to happen to him, the poor guy? Our hero must, by definition, be a normal person, without any heroic tendencies a’la John McClane. He should also be an exemplary father and husband who, when pushed against the wall, reveals his hidden charisma and survival skills. So, following this line of reasoning, in Firewall, we have a character named Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford). Jack is the perfect embodiment of the description above – he is responsible for the electronic security of networks of large banks, a decent guy who you can like right away, and most importantly – a devoted husband to Beth (Virginia Madsen) and a loving dad to Sarah (Carly Schroeder) and Andy (Jimmy Bennett).

Firewall Virginia Madsen Carly Schroeder Jimmy Bennett

He does have some temporary problems with his new boss (Robert Patrick), who landed on his head after a merger with a banking conglomerate, but it’s nothing our hero couldn’t handle with our hero’s character. Suddenly, however, something changes – within a few minutes, his world crumbles. A man claiming to be Bill Cox (Paul Bettany – the star of Wimbledon – the director’s previous film) declares to him that he has tied up his family in his own home – if our hero doesn’t cooperate and follow orders, nothing will happen to anyone. The plot thickens. Action! Roll the cameras! Anyone who finds the above text reminiscent of something they’ve seen before can predict what will happen in the film up to 99%. Cox seems to be in control of the situation -> Stanfield seems helpless in the face of something beyond him -> Cox starts to implement his wicked plan -> Stanfield begins to rebel -> Cox makes a mistake, which angers Stanfield, etc., etc., etc.

Firewall Harrison Ford Paul Bettany

Firewall ‘s assets were undoubtedly supposed to be Ford and Bettany – the clash of two different generations of actors and different schools of acting, and the showdown our two protagonists were supposed to have with each other. What came out? Only what could have come out, namely, one big cinematic mess. Unfortunately, Ford is no longer suitable for such films (sorry, Dr. Jones), besides, Jack Stanfield is practically a copy of President James Marshall from Air Force One – the same determined look in the face of danger, the same gestures, the same facial expressions… Paul Bettany, on the other hand, had perfect practice before the looming The Da Vinci Code. He could rehearse all the “bad” faces, raising his sinister voice, and generally being the bad guy in Firewall. Additionally, both actors, sluggishly directed by the director, look like they’re waiting for the next scene – there’s no sense of drama. Well, maybe there’s one scene (the best in the whole movie, of course) – I’m talking about the whole action in the bank – there, the whole psychological game between good and evil is outlined enough that the average viewer (i.e., one who knew nothing about the film before) could notice it. So what, if it lasts a maximum of 5-10 minutes? The gameplay throughout the whole film is unfortunately not very interesting because it’s as boring as plain pancakes and mercilessly predictable.

Firewall Harrison Ford Virginia Madsen

Once again, it turned out that even for a tried-and-tested formula, you need someone more than an average craftsman. Once again, it turned out that a reheated cutlet, no matter how seasoned, is much less tasty than a fresh one. I don’t know what else to write about Firewall except to repeat that it’s the same script as before, just with different actors and locations. Personally, I get incredibly bored with such productions and consider this time to be irretrievably lost – I don’t even know if watching some junk isn’t sometimes more enjoyable, because there’s usually something to laugh at. The only advice I can give is to choose another movie.