Firewall (2006)

(In theaters, February 2006) Action grandpa Harrison Ford is back throwing punches in this limp thriller, at a time where even his stunts doubles are more likely to worry about broken pelvises than landing a good hit. Yet another suspense film in which a man must save his family from ineffectual criminals, Firewall gamely tries to get on with today’s technology, but only succeeds in highlighting how silly it is. The technical details are wrong (Hurrah for continental wi-fi coverage!), but even nit-picking IT jargon pales in comparison to the script’s other problems. Paul Bettany’s villain is weak enough to be stopped by a good spanking, but Ford himself doesn’t look so dynamic at an age where he should be contemplating retirement-home hobbies. (We’ll let the whole marrying-a-woman-twenty-years-younger shtick slide on the basis that Hollywood producers are always fond of wish-fulfilment fantasies, and that Ford himself seems to be having no problem dating younger women.) Actually, Ford isn’t half bad as either a security expert or an older family man, but it’s when he starts playing the action hero that Firewall becomes very amusing: a better script would have recognized the problem and played the character to his strengths. But that’s a tall order for a script that simply goes through the motions of a thriller without much conviction, peppering the dialogue with technical terms it doesn’t understand and making only the most cursory efforts at drawing credible characters. Some twists happen too late for us to care, which is to say that Firewall can’t hold anyone’s interest for more than a few minutes. It may do if all you’re looking for is a very conventional thriller… but otherwise, forget about it.

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