Being a child of the 80's and a fan of such film series as Star Wars and Indiana Jones, it's easy to get attached
to actor Harrison Ford for creating such memorable characters as Han Solo and Indy. Since those films, Harrison has gone on
to star in several action films including The Fugitive, Patriot Games, Clear And Present Danger, and
Air Force One. Ford has become known for performing many of his own stunts which has added to the realism of a lot of
his films. And, as he's aged, Ford's become easily associated with roles that place him in a situation where he
needs to protect his family... even to near superhuman efforts from his character. Ford, now 63 years old, takes on a similar
family-protecting role as he did in Air Force One for his latest film, Firewall.
Instead of serving as the president of the United States, this time Harrison Ford is more of your everyday man being
forced to protect his wife and children as he plays a bank network security specialist in Firewall. Versatile actor
Paul Bettany plays the villain set on forcing Ford's Jack Stanfield to do whatever he asks, using Ford's family as bait to
pull Jack's strings. Those who know Ford's performances in the earlier-mentioned action vehicles (Air Force One is one
recommended for edited viewing) know Ford can be a force to be reckoned with when his family's concerned. He's proven
that he can wallop terrorists and men decades younger, and Firewall offers no less.
Off the bat, Firewall has a few problems. For one, the premise isn't anything especially new. In fact, just from
watching the trailer, it feels like it should be a rehash of Air Force One. While, after watching the film, it's clear
the films are drastically dissimilar, Ford doesn't play the characters much differently. Some of the film has that been-there-done-that
feel at various parts, stealing some potential weight the premise could have held. However, looking past that, the film
standing alone, is a tight thriller that is well acted and well delivered, even if things start to unravel a little too much for
it's somewhat cliche, and rather abrupt, conclusion. Minor complaints would be Cox's team of hoodlums are pretty thin and
stereotypical. A lot of the material here is unimaginative and tired, which dumbs down a few scenes more than it should. But
a film like this begs for a suspension of reality... especially when we find our hero and one of his colleague's surfing the
web on a laptop while driving in the middle of virtually nowhere. Finally, while many critics have been coming down on Ford
for his age, it doesn't seem to be a propose much of a problem in this film. He performs most of his own stunts (with some
being pretty physically demanding), and holds his own pretty well. Harrison can't help getting older and I'd rather see him
making films than not... especially when Indiana Jones 4 is still being seriously considered at this point.
Content is Firewall's biggest red flag. Language is rather heavy, consisting of 1 "f"
word and a couple handfuls of blasphemy, which brings the film down. Violence doesn't permeate the film, but when it's
included, it can be pretty brutal. In one sequence, Jack beats a man in the face with the class cup from a blender,
causing plenty of blood to cover the thug's face. Several characters are also executed by gun shots to the head
(we don't see the impact, but do see a little bit of blood after the fact). The final confrontation at the film's
climax involves quite a bit of fighting with varying bloody results. Finally, the abuse the kidnappers put Stanfield's wife
and kids through is pretty harrowing. The end mix of all these elements makes for a pretty heavy PG-13 thriller that is
anything but family friendly.
Junk aside, the redeemable things about the film is its interesting story, strong performances from Ford and Bettany,
and an emphasis on family. However, is this enough to warrant recommendation? Not as is, unfortunately. With the violence
and language toned down (which an edited version would help with), it'd be a much better film.
- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 2/13/06)
Parental Guide: Brief Summary of Content
Vulgarity/Language: At least 1 "f" word,
6 "J-sus," 4 "g*dd*mn," 11 "s" words, 7 "d*mn," 1 "d*cking," 7 "G-d," 3 "a" words, 1 "a**hole," 5 "h*ll" (also,
a man gives Jack the middle finger)
Alcohol/Drugs: Some people have casual drinks
during the film.
Blood/Gore: We briefly see an image
on TV from a horror film the children are watching that appears to show maggots pouring out of a person's
mouth; Cox shoots a man in the back, and once lying face down on the ground, we see a little blood around him on
the floor; Although not bloody or gory, we see a dead man in a body bag in the back of a car (which startles the children);
Jack takes the cylinder cup from a blender and repeatedly hits a man in the face with it. After the first
hit, some blood begins trickling down the man's face. After repeated hits, nearly his entire face is covered in blood;
We don't see it, but Cox shoots a man in the back (or back of the head) and we see a little bit of blood on
the body when Jack runs over to check on them; Cox strikes Beth (she has a little bit of blood on her face following
this) and shoots a man dead when he tries to help her; Cox and Jack beat each other up and we see quite a bit of
blood on their faces; We briefly see a pick axe sticking out of a person's back
Several people are shot and killed (mostly off screen); There's quite a bit of physical violence - we see
the Stanfield family wrestled to the ground, tied up, and having their mouths taped shut; Cox strikes
Jack in the head with the butt of a gun; Cox threatens to break the boy's knee (but doesn't); Jack forcefully
holds a woman down to calm her; Cox's thugs push Beth and the kids around; A man is hit by a car and is killed
(the car then crashes into a building and catches on fire); Jack kills a man by repeatedly striking him in the head
with a glass blender cup; Cox and Jack beat each other up; A man kills a man by hitting him in the back with
a pick axe, etc...
** Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most
reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not on content (with a few exceptions). However, if the content
really affects the reviewer's opinion of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's rating.