Less than ten years ago, Harrison Ford was at his prime, shelling out hit after hit. He was a guaranteed headliner. Now, after a string of so-so movies, he is not quite the A-list star he used to be - but we still hold out hope. Ford is back with force in "Firewall," a surprisingly good and tense thriller that, while not quite up to the level of some of his most classic action movies like "Air Force One" and "The Fugitive," is certainly a step above recent fare like "Hollywood Homicide" and "K-19: The Widowmaker."
Some have called "Firewall" a passable action flick, and others have said Ford is playing a hero who is out-of-date - but Ford is excellent at playing such roles. There is something satisfying about watching bad guys mess with whatever on-screen family Ford has at the time, and then discover that they made a gross mistake. Ford, while starting to look a little old in his movements, is still as sharp as ever, and I haven't seen him this good since the mid-1990's.
Beyond Ford, "Firewall" is a rather standard kidnapping action film, but taken to the next level with director Richard Loncraine, who really has never shown that he can do quality action before. "Firewall" is exciting from beginning to end, thanks to good pacing, solid acting and a fun story. There isn't anything especially original about the movie, but that's okay - it still works on pretty much every level.
Paul Bettany, who will play the villain in the upcoming "Da Vinci Code," is excellent as the cold and ruthless Bill Cox. Bettany, who is on the verge of mainstream success, controls every scene he's in, often overshadowing Ford.
There are a few moments which could have been better. I would have liked to see Robert Patrick's character developed a bit more, as it seems as though the movie shies away from really wrapping everything up with Ford's attempt to rob his own bank. Once Ford leaves the bank the movie never comes back to it, even though there was so much potential to tie everything together. On top of that, there is one element that really bugs me - to track his kidnapped family, Ford uses the GPS on his dog's collar to discover where the bad guys are heading. I live in Seattle and was not aware that you could just pull over on the side of the road and login to the Internet, or be out in the deserts of Eastern Washington and do the same thing. I wish our wireless network was that good, but this was a rather cheesy thing to put in a movie.
All in all, "Firewall" is an entertaining action movie that marks Ford's best film in six years. It isn't perfect, but is a solid thrill ride nonetheless.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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