“Firewall” shows there’s still some life left in the old Ford
There weren’t many male stars hotter in the 90s than Harrison Ford. Tom Hanks won the awards, but Ford made a truckload of great movies in succession. “Presumed Innocent,” “Regarding Henry,” “Patriot Games,” “The Fugitive,” “Clear and Present Danger,” “Sabrina,” “Air Force One,” (Stop me when I hit a dud.) Okay, so it all started to go downhill with “The Devil’s Own.” But nearly a decade later, at 63, Ford finds himself with plenty of star power left but needing a solid film.
His choice? “Firewall”– a generic, rudimentary thriller that leaves about as much lasting impression as movie popcorn.
Though fans may question Ford’s choice, and reviewers are generally trashing the product, Ford’s choice isn’t such a shock. Nor is “Firewall” as bad as you’ve heard. Ford was understandably encouraged when he heard the cast list, which is filled with notable actors like Virginia Madsen, Paul Bettany, Alan Arkin, Robert Patrick and “24’s” mousy Mary Lynn Rajskub. With this lineup nearly any film would be at least watchable, and though “Firewall’s” is neither unpredictable nor original to any significant degree, it does feature good momentum and enjoyably Spartan storytelling– just the minimum needed to keep us in the hunt.
Seattle bank security chief Jack Stanfield (Ford) is crossed up by a businessman (Bettany) who pretends to be a client but turns out to be the mastermind of $100 million hack and heist scheme. If he doesn’t cooperate by aiding the bad guys, Stanfield may never see his family, now held hostage in his own home, alive again. The film relies on plenty of technology; cell phones, fax scanners, iPods, spycams and the like are abundant, and there’s just enough credibility to prevent outright disbelief.
A thriller like this is not about the destination, especially with the iconic hero Ford as the star, but the journey– which in this case is fun while it lasts thanks to the lean direction by Richard Loncraine (“Wimbledon”). Fans of Ford need not worry, their star will be back next year in the to-be-directed-by Steven Spielberg fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise.
Those who should fret are the fans of Virginia Madsen, the attractive Oscar nominated actress who plays Ford’s wife and who, if history repeats, may find her career in turmoil. Why? The unexplained “Curse of Harrison,” which causes the careers of Ford’s love interests to come to a screeching halt. Each of the following actresses was either a promising newcomer or a rising star when she did a film with Ford: Kelly McGillis, Helen Mirren, Emmanuelle Seigner, Melanie Griffith (nominated for an Oscar starring with Harrison then-poof!), Julia Ormond and Wendy Crewson. Where are they now? Bonnie Bedelia and Anne Archer never quite recovered. Anne Heche went cuckoo.
And maybe it’s not just the women. Anyone know what happened to Pearl Harbor heartthrob Josh Hartnett?
Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and brief profanity.