by Scott Weinberg
Hey, let's go see that new Harrison Ford movie! It's about an old guy whose kids (and wife) are way too young for him, but through the magic of clever editing and a team of lumpy stuntmen, manages to save his family from the unkind advances of a team of ultra-high-tech (yet invariably stupid) bank-robbers! Actually, let's just stay home and play charades.Every few years he trudges out of hiding, that intermittently magnetic yet generally grumpy-faced mega-star known as Harrison Ford. Beloved by dual generations as Han Solo, Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan, Richard Kimble, John Book, and a variety of other cool characters, Harrison Ford has allowed time to turn him into a high-paid lump, a one-note trumpet who refuses to deviate from the well-established formula that nets him 20mill a flick, regardless of the project's well-worn narrative, astonishingly hole-ridden screenplay, or egregiously generic presentation.
"What ever happened to aging gracefully?"
Put Alan Thicke in the lead role of Firewall and, without changing one line of dialogue, the flick would debut at 9pm Eastern on ABC's Movie of the Week.
Firewall, for those who haven't seen more than nine movies in their lifetime, is about a high-ranking bank security executive who is forced to steal $100 million when a team of snarling villains invades his family's home.
Insert yawn here.
At 63 years of age, Mr. Ford, while still a commanding presence and a very likable actor, really needs to get out of the action game. And here's why:
There's no action in Firewall. The movie is not much more than a thinly connected parade of scenes in which Harry is asked to furrow his brow worriedly, toss his eyeballs around in a confused fashion, and avoid the wrath of a bored-looking Paul Bettany, cast here as "head villain."
Directed with a lot of limpness and numerous sequences involving rain by Richard Loncraine, Firewall runs through its rote series of plot twists, holes, contortions, and contrivances as if it can't wait to get to the end credits. Colorful characters like Robert Patrick, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Robert Forster, and Alan Arkin pop their heads up every twenty minutes, dole out their words, and promptly vanish beneath the nearest desk or computer terminal. Leading lady Virginia Madsen, packing that always-profitable post-Oscar nom clout, earns a paycheck as a wife who spends the entire film screaming, running, or hogtied.
It's Harrison Ford who anchors the show here, and by anchor I mean "drags the thing to a waterlogged and painful death." Long since interred in the Weinberg Hall of Fame for Mega-Cool Movie Heroes, the actor is now entirely content to deliver cinematic pablum to his now-target audience of 62-year-old women who like their action "mild," their stories "familiar," and their thrillers "bereft of thrills."
So devoid of ideas is Firewall that we're treated to a collection of extended sequences and plot diversions involving static interference, cell phones, peanut allergies, and dog collars, each of which could be yanked out of the flick without any appreciable change in the story. The villains could have been renamed Angry, Nerdly, and Clueless for all the characterization they've been given. The actors who play Ford's kids could have been replaced with small mannequins and I bet nobody would have noticed.
Not only is Firewall so silly that it contains a scene in which a hundred million clams are stolen by way of a broken fax machine and an MP3 player (and that it also offers two of the silliest, most telegraphed plot twists ever concocted), but it also serves as a two-hour advertisement for Dell Computers, Apple iPods, Chrysler Motors, and Microsoft Operating Systems. Harry doesn't need a firewall installed; he needs an ad-block program.
Bring a pen and try to keep track of how many plot holes Firewall has to offer, and then add this one to the bottom of the list: Nobody even says the word "firewall" in the course of the movie. It's just a cool-sounding techie buzzword that one can use as a title for a no-frills heist flick that, occasionally, offers a scene that deals with computer terminals."If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is the sort of mantra that Harrison Ford's agents must coo into his eardrums every other day, which explains why a 63-year-old actor is playing a character who's clearly in his mid-40s. Time makes fools of us all, Harrison Ford, and while we movie nerds still love and admire your body of work, you really should be careful; "Firewall" is the sort of movie that damages reputations, shortens careers, and breaks hips. If you're trying to sell us the idea that you're still macho enough to get violent, no problem. Stop with the glorified TV flicks and give us a new Indiana Jones adventure already.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=13934&reviewer=128
originally posted: 02/11/06 09:03:20