Firewall is another one for Harrison Ford’s collection of action thriller movies. From Air Force One to Clear and Present Danger, he keeps up to the genre, this time, in a modernist techno thriller. He plays the role of a computer security expert Jack Stanfield who is blackmailed into robbing the bank in exchange for the life of his family.
The central narrative still keeps up to the trend of the usual thrillers about a family under siege by a ruthless criminal. No doubt, the concept about a highly technological and sophisticatedly complex network of tracers, access codes and firewalls, utilized with the usual family kidnapping motivation, is quite interesting. But still, this movie turns out to be a thriller of generic conventions. The movie actually begins quite satisfactory but it escalates to having conventional plotpoints and ending.
With the car chases, shootouts and explosions, the computer systems, electronic banking and the million dollars, the vision for this movie is only partially fulfilled.
The suspense is quite heart-pumping from beginning to end. But its weaknesses are still apparent all throughout. The plants and pay-offs are too direct and do not have much creativity in establishing them: Jack’s son Andrew (Jimmy Bennett) playing around a remote controlled toy disrupting TV signals; the dog’s tracing collar to later on help Jack find his family; Bill Cox’s (Paul Bettany) mere antagonistic presence since his introduction in the story (which may or may not be intentional); the establishing of Jack’s trusted assistant Janet (Mary Rajskub) as somebody to aid him in the worst times; Jack’s supposed colleague, ally and longtime friend Harry having a possible deal with Cox; and Beth Stanfield (Virginia Madsen) as Jack’s architect wife who designs their upscale house (that looks like a fortress with an exterior to work for a horror movie) with a point used in the plot to validate their possible escape from Cox.
All these seem too obvious and easily discerned while watching the movie. Moreover, most of the scenes are too dialogue-driven. The characterization is not consistent. The character of Accuwest executive and potential rival of Jack in the person of Gary Mitchell (Robert Patrick) loses its very character too early on. After scrutinizing much of Jack`s movements in the company, his scrutiny suddenly disappears when the climax of the movie commences. This paves way to a rather too easy ending with Cox as the only character with whom to make Stanfield have a hard time. If Mitchell doesn’t have to be too important in the ending, his character in the beginning could have been toned down a bit.