Sunday, March 05, 2006

Adam hacks Firewall

Harrison Ford was my hero when I was a kid.
Of course, I had blond hair as a wee one, so I didn't get to play Han Solo at recess in elementary school. That honor went to my dark-haired friend Justin. I had to be Luke, which sucked because Luke was a whiny bastard who ended up getting his hand cut off.
It wasn't untilI was in junior high when I discovered that Luke could also be a badass. I missed out on that as a kid. Luke, Jedi-in-training or no, was a glorified sidekick before Return of the Jedi. Still, Harrison Ford was my hero. And not just for Star Wars -- dude, he was INDIANA JONES!!! And Deckard, the Blade Runner. And he was in Force Ten from Navarone.
When I was a kid, Harrison Ford could do no wrong.
Actually, back in the day, he really couldn't. He kept taking great roles, even a couple that let him stretch his acting chops in Frantic and The Mosquito Coast. Even when he was in a dud movie (Presumed Innocent), he was golden.
Then, along came Air Force One.
The movie wasn't terrible. In fact, it sort of surpasses itself, thanks in small part to Gary Oldman and Ford. But, Ford's acting was derailed by a weak script which reduced him to a tag line -- "GET OFF MY PLANE!" -- which I still make fun of to this day.
And after that, things just kept getting worse.
The remake of Sabrina? Six Days, Seven Nights? What Lies Beneath? Hollywood Homicide? Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap.
And now...Firewall. Here's the saddened state of Harrison Ford's career. He used to be the King of summer blockbuster movies. Now, he gets dumped in February, the graveyard of every studio's release schedule.
But wait...Firewall boasts an impressive cast behind Harrison Ford. Paul Bettany (who is wonderful in too many movies to count) plays the villain. Virginia Madsen (the current "Over 40 'It' Girl" after Sideways) is his wife. Robert Patrick (fresh from a fantastic supporting role in Walk the Line) plays his new boss. Alan Arkin (who I adore) plays the president of the bank he works for. And Robert Forster. Robert Fucking Medium Cool/Black Hole/Alligator/Jackie Brown Forster plays Ford's best friend. Mary Lynn Rajskub (who you might recognize from Mr Show or 24) is his secretary.
To me, that's a GREAT cast.
Sadly, this is a really AVERAGE movie. At best.
Ford plays Jack Stanfield, a computer security specialist for a bank that's being taken over by a major finance company. He's got a lovely wife and two children and a stupid little rat-dog named Rusty.
Blah blah blah, his family gets kidnapped by this devious criminal mastermind played by Bettany and his frozen dinner-eating henchmen, all of whom bored the shit out of me and whom I wanted to die. Thankfully, at least on that note, the movie didn't disappoint me.
For a mastermind, Bettany's Bill Cox or whatever his name really was is kind of an idiot. Every time a hitch comes up in his plan, it just shows how little this supposed consumate planner really planned his heist. It doesn't bode well for a movie when the hero spends a good third of the movie correcting the villains mistakes. Aren't they BOTH supposed to be smart? Isn't this a battle of minds, instead of one mind and a moron?
Have I mentioned that I really hated ALL of Bettany's co-conspirators? Damn, they annoyed the hell out of me. There's this twit who's supposedly a shit-hot hacker and he's also this whiny, fey twerp who supposedly has the hots for Stanfield's wife -- except you can totally tell he'd rather see Alan Arkin pole dancing in a see-through thong. And then there's this lummox who was in a skateboard movie (I think Grind) who has the dumbest facial expression known to man -- and can't change it. Oh, and I can't forget the pretty one who just stands around making stupid faces like he's Derek Fucking Zoolander. There was ONE henchman who seemed like he could act and had a personality...but he gets killed for making a mistake and being almost nice to Stanfield's family.
Virginia Madsen has long been one of my not-so-secret crushes (since Dune, I believe), and she's still lovely. Hell, she's a fine actress, too. Except...she has no fucking part whatsoever in this movie. Really. She's around to look scared and get tied up. I feel bad for her. She deserves better than this movie. Really.
Robert Patrick is decent enough in his role, playing a guy who's damn near as smart as Stanfield (even though Stanfield characterizes him as an idiot). And, right as he almost pieces things together, his character just disappears from the script. Arkin and Forster are great for the minute and a half they each get. And, the script almost offers a surprise for the audience about Forster's character. Almost. Rajskub gets to play Chloe from 24 without the smarts or skills -- and is still more than adequate. But she's there only as a tool to be used, and her subplots in the script are just forced out the yin-yang.
The two Stanfield children -- well, I kinda wanted them to die, too. Especially the wide-eyed, pansy ass momma's boy son with the peanut allergy. I would have force-fed the little panty-waist about three pounds of JiF and then shoved a jar of Planter's Honey Roasts up his bunghole. My gods, what an annoying little fuck.
His daughter? What kind of person -- of any age or gender -- when being held hostage -- makes their dad promise to bring back her iPod when he borrows it to attempt to rescue the family? Answer: a vapid, poorly-written one, of course.
Whoever Joe Forte is, someone needs to tell Hollywood that he's no longer allowed to write scripts. I realize he knows all the keyboard shortcuts in Final Draft...but you can train monkeys to do those, too. And a trained monkey could write a better thriller than this.
Richard Loncraine does his best with the pile of yak droppings he's given, but ultimately he proves that he should be maybe looking for work in daytime TV instead of feature films. This from the guy who directed Bettany in Wimbledon (which was very watchable), Sting in Brimstone & Treacle and Sir Ian McKellen in Richard III. Richard, you can do better than this. Really.
From top to bottom, this movie disappoints. I'd honestly rather watch Big Momma's House 3 than any movie from the creative team of Firewall.
Harrison Ford was my hero. Now he's just a has-been, and it saddens me to no end to see my ex-hero reduced to this. Really. He needs to work with a good director on a great script and remind me how terrific he can be. But until then, he's going to remain a one-line joke.
Adapting it for Firewall (and I'm sure you've heard this already), it's "GET OUT OF MY BANK!"
So sad...

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