If you’re
looking for a film to make you believe in Harrison Ford once again, move along.
isn’t it. If this heist/techno-thriller isn’t quite as rote and
pedestrian as his last couple flicks, it’s just as formulaic as you’d expect
polished moneymaking product to be. There are enough tense moments to keep you
awake, but not so many that they’ll stick in memory for very long.

Ford is
Jack Stanfield, a security expert for a Seattle bank. He’s coerced into a heist
by Bill Cox, played with grim determination by Paul Bettany. Cox saunters into
the Stanfield home on pizza night to hold Jack’s family hostage until he comes
up with the dough. The plan is a pretty good one, but he didn’t take an
impending merger into account, and the fine details are undone by corporate

When the
plan goes cockeyed, instead of taking his thugs and going home Cox puts the
onus on Stanfield to find a workaround. This is where the cat and mouse game
should begin; instead Firewall merely offers a new use for
an iPod and the sort of technobabble where Dilithium Crystals feel at home.

Stanfield family is filled out by Virginia Madsen, hopefully nabbing a big
payday before the Sideways glow wears off, if not a ticket to Indy
. There’s also Carly Schroeder as Marginalized Daughter and Jimmy
Bennett as Son Who Gets Slightly More Attention and Cries Appealingly. Then
there’s the dog, which should really leverage this plum role into a starring
point in the long-rumored C.H.O.M.P.S. sequel. I mention the
dog only because it has a prominent role in the plot, which is all I really
need to say about Firewall.

script is a revolving series of threats against the Stanfields, tense moments
where Jack tries to worm out of the situation, and gloating from Bettany.
Caught in the middle are Robert Forster and Robert Patrick, who has lost none
of his flair for striding purposefully down hallways. Resisting temptation, the
movie gives neither actor anything significant, and the other dozen Forster
fans should feel as gypped as I do.

(At least
we aren’t as embarrassed as Alan Arkin fans, who have to watch their man
positively dodder through a couple scenes.)

To his
dubious credit, Ford expresses Stanfield’s anger and resignation with a grimace
slightly different than his norm, and restrains the finger-point that’s become
a trademark. But despite the fact that I know Ford isn’t entirely like this in
real life, I wouldn’t call his work acting, per se. It’s just a variation on
the same theme he’s relied upon for a decade and a half. There’s none of the
cockeyed charm or wit that made us like him all those years ago.

Much like
the Bruce Willis thriller Hostage (which also features tyke
Jimmy Bennett) Firewall trades in threats against a family, though here
Hollywood takes over and tones down the most oppressive moments. There’s no
cutting Euro edge. Hostage was filled with palpable danger; with Firewall
we never fear anyone will be hurt. Is Madsen going to be shot? No way,
man — Sideways was a hit! She’s above all that now.

So we just
lean back, munch some popcorn and wait to see what mistakes will give Jack
Stanfield the leg up on the bad men. That’s a pretty dull process, and as soon
as Firewall
hands the reins from Bettany to Ford you can look like a mystic
predicting where it’s all going to wind up.

If that
routine thriller progression is good enough for Michael Douglas and so many
others, I guess there’s no reason it can’t be good enough for Ford. The man has
defined the second half of his career with inflexibility, and we shouldn’t
expect him to start enjoying his work now. But if he doesn’t have to like his
movies, neither do we.

5.7 out of 10