Starring: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen,
Robert Patrick, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Alan Arkin. Rated PG-13.
this movie before.
Force One, Harrison
Ford lost his plane to a gang of Russian hijackers, only to retrieve it by
morphing into a one-man army. In Firewall, he plays mild-mannered security specialist Jack
Stanfield, whose family is held hostage by sneering British techno-terrorist
Bill Cox (Paul Bettany). Ford, 63, shakes off the cobwebs and races to the
rescue, dutifully reaffirming his iconic status as the strong, silent type, the
all-American family man. Perhaps in his next movie, he’ll lose his Blockbuster
card. Or his bus pass. (“Get off my Muni!”)
the smart money says he’ll get it back. Like Clint Eastwood, Ford has played
the unflappable hero so often that the role must fit him like a pair of
well-worn sneakers; unlike Eastwood, who has broadened his horizons in recent
years as a character actor and director, Ford has been spinning his wheels
since 1993’s The Fugitive. Now comes Firewall, a 21st-century take on the tough-guy-in-distress
formula, playing on modern-day fears of home invasions and identity theft.
not half bad. Sure, it’s familiar, and it’s over the top – though not nearly as
laughable or bombastic as Air Force One. But it’s an efficient thriller, driven by the
passably entertaining tug of war between Bettany’s insidious villain and Ford,
who could perform this role in his sleep. To be fair, the role has been tweaked
ever so slightly, perhaps a tacit acknowledgement of his age. He’s no longer
the head-busting bruiser who picks off the bad guys with improbable precision.
renders him impotent to save his family until the final frames, when Ford
emerges as a vulnerable but otherwise recognizable demigod.
Surprising? Hardly. Firewall
is suspenseful to a point, but we’ve been down this road before. It’s
an old song with a new riff, made all the more palatable by Bettany, who seems
to relish every icy syllable. Joining the fun are Virginia Madsen, in a
disappointingly slight role after her star-making turn in Sideways, and Mary Lynn Rajskub, who takes a break from pouting
as Chloe, Jack
Bauer’s trusted sidekick in 24, to pout
as Ford’s trusted sidekick, Janet.