What's the last really good Harrison Ford movie you saw? Maybe "Air Force One?" That was ten years ago. Apparently we'll have to keep waiting. Ford's career has been abyssmal in the past decade or so. I think it's his own fault. He has the acting chops (don't believe me? See "Regarding Henry," "Mosquito Coast" or "Witness"), he just chooses which roles to portray very poorly. He tries to get back into the thriller/action genre with "Firewall," but like the name suggests, he is stopped cold.
Ford plays Jack Stanfield; a millionaire family man who runs computer security for a major online bank. Enter Bill, played by Paul Bettany, and his cronies who takes Jack's family and home hostage and will kill them all if Jack doesn't help him hack into the very computer system he tries to protect to steal $100 million. Nothing we haven't really seen before: "do what I say or your family is dead!" Ok, I can go with it. It's tense and Bettany makes for a great villain.
The story just gets ridiculous after this. Jack tries all of these stupid subterfuge tactics which fail consistently and enrages Bill to no end; who keeps threatening harm, but never does anything except to his own men. Think of any other movie where the hero tries to deceive or foil the bad guys, but it's too early in the film and you just know it's not going to work, so it just becomes frustrating.
About halfway through the film, the story takes a different turn in plot when Jack finally gets the upper hand over the antagonists but is simultaneously now wanted by the law. If there's one thing I've learned about being in the movies, it's that you never piss off the following people, especially by messing with their families: John Wayne, Harrison Ford, Robert DeNiro, Mel Gibson, Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford. So I love it when Ford finally grows a pair and gets pissed at his captors. I know we're in for a thrill ride.
So I'm now ready for a Harrison Ford ass-kicking festival when the most ridiculous method of tracking down the bad guys occurs. I won't let on as to what it is, but it made me groan out loud. I don't think the people around me minded, as they were also groaning or laughing at the same time. At this point, for me, the movie went from an average Hollywood popcorn thriller to a piece of trash. I can't help it. It's the same thing that ruined movies like "Panic Room" or "Red-Eye" for me: sheer ludocrity (my word). Suspension of disbelief is thrown right out the proverbial window in exchange for a blistering slap in the face from the writers.
I hate to rip Ford; I really do. The man is one of my heroes and I vouch for him fully, but he's got to make better choices in what types of films he makes. He's a good actor and could do so much better. Like-wise with the under appreciated Paul Bettany (who will be playing the lead antagonist in this spring's "The DaVinci Code") who I have come to thoroughly enjoy in less than medicocre films. Add Virginia Madsen and Robert Forster and you've got potential, but it fails miserably.
Full of cliches, poorly written lines and holes so big even the most novice of hackers could fit through, I wouldn't recommend "Firewall" unless you're really a huge fan of one of the actors or are able to really not care that Hollywood thinks you are a retard. It is soooo predictable that a blind man could see what is to happen next. The last thing I would say: "Woof!" It'll make sense if you actually pay money to see this movie.