Firewall is one of those high tech terrorist action films that if you pay even the slightest attention to or know anything about computers you’ll actually laugh at how ridiculous it is. Not to be outdone however the script is equally poor and the acting, from a group of damn good actors, is substandard. Not to be outdone however the effects, camera work and movie cues are horrendously awful. What’s good about Firewall? Not much.
Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) works for a bank, has a loving wife Beth (Virginia Madsen), and two cute kids (Carly Schroeder and Jimmy Bennett). A group of exceptional thieves kidnap his family and hold them for ransom while Jack is at work. They take control of the house, readjust the security system and put cameras in all the rooms (yet they forget to unplug the phones, take away the family’s car keys, and decide to leave the family together unwatched except for the cameras that don’t pick up sound so they can plot escape).
The leader of the group Cox (Paul Bettany) informs Jack of his situation and sends Jack wired with a pen camera to work to keep an eye on him. Cox later shows up under a flimsy cover and explains they are going to steal $100,000,000 from the bank using a USB Drive and frame Jack for the crime. Jack informs him that his plan is stupid and won’t work and the kidnapper realizing his mistake makes Jack come up with his own plan to steal the money which involves parts from a printer and an iPod. Well logic has just left the world of Firewall, if it was ever there to begin with.
If they are going to frame Jack why does Cox not just give him the USB Drive and have Jack steal the money, record him doing it on the security system, and then they have the proof to frame him? Instead Cox shows up in the building and then Jack and Cox have to go around and erase any trace of the two of them together. Neither the original plan nor Jack’s plan make any sense if you sit down an analyse them. The film’s creators realized this of course so they rush through the explanations of both plans using as many techno-babble words as possible and them move onto the more suspenseful scenes.
As a suspense film the movie works in places but is hampered by the bad guys being mean but not being villains. Sure they keep threatening Jack and his family, but aside from a couple of bumps and bruises they don’t do anything except allude to what might be done. At no point do you believe that the family is in any real danger or that anything might actually happen to them. When the film needs Cox to show force to the family rather than attacking one of them he kills one of his own men in front of them. Huh? And the film’s inability to decide if the thieves are really smart or really stupid drove me nuts (though in a climatic scene we do get to see one of the kidnappers does have an explosive personality as he’s hit with a car and EXPLODES!!!).
We also get a supporting cast which may or may not be part of the plot including Alan Arkin, Robert Patrick and Robert Forster. The film tries to build suspense as to who might be involved without much success. A final note, on musical cues and camera work - ARRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!! The creators of this film couldn’t have been more obvious, overbearing, and annoying in their choices of hand-held shaky cam and redundant “here’s a suspenseful moment,” “something bad is going to happen,” “watch out!,” “happy moment.” cues that will just drive you up the wall including odd choices of music, bad timing and execution, and heavy-handed delivery.
The cast isn’t helped out by the poor script and most of the performances are phoned in. Nobody is going to put this one on their resumes. It’s just bad, bad, bad. The plot makes a Michael Bay film look well thought out. Despite a setup that should lead to some interesting storytelling the film flies off in NeverNeverland on ridiculous premise after ridiculous premise by having the characters repeatedly do something counter-intuitive (not to mention illogical, ridiculous, and asinine) only because it’s required for the next stupid scene in the movie. Setting this movie on fire and watching it burn would have been more entertaining.