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Firewall (8/10)

by Tony Medley

I went into this not expecting much. Even though I donít read other reviews, I had heard the buzz. One of my editors said she wanted me to write the review because she loved it when I blasted a movie I didnít like, fully expecting me to hate it. Alas, I had to call her the day after the screening and tell her I would be unable to write the review for her because I liked it a lot. Being the professional I have come to know her to be, she said she would still like me to write the review. I declined because I donít write much about movies I like and didnít think I could write one long enough for her space.

This is pretty standard fare, but the acting, especially of Harrison Ford and Paul Bettany, raises it to something that held my interest throughout. Bettany was last seen in the romantic comedy, ďWimbledonĒ (2004), in which he was a tennis player pursuing Kirstin Dunst. He was the nicest of guys. Here heís a really bad guy.

Bill Cox (Bettany) wants to rob Seattle-based Landrock Pacific Bank, whose security system has been designed by Jack Stanfield (Ford). Itís claimed that it is the most effective anti-theft system in the industry.

Cox and his gang kidnap Stanfieldís wife, Beth (Virginia Madsen) and his two children and hold them captive to force Jack to break into his system. While that might sound hackneyed, Ford and Bettany are so good in their roles, greatly aided by director Richard Loncraine, who directed Wimbledon, they keep the tension up and the pace moving.

Good as Ford and Bettany are, my favorite in the movie is Mary Lynn Rajskub, who plays Jackís secretary, Janet Stone. Better known for her role in Fox TVís hit, ď24Ē, as the computer genius, Chloe OíBrian, she just gets better and more appealing each time I see her.

There are some things about the movie that strain credulity. For one thing, Ford, at 62, is a little old to be playing a man with a young wife and children.

For another, he has designed this sophisticated security system, but itís not so sophisticated that he canít breach it himself using a fax machine and an MP3 player (Apple apparently paid for promotion for its MP3 player, but they didnít pay me and Iím not going to promote it by mentioning it by name; mine has been so untrustworthy and Apple has been so uncooperative in helping me with my complaints about their battery that has to be recharged almost every other time I play it, contrary to their claims of a 10 hour life, that Apple couldnít pay me enough to say anything nice about their Ipod [oops!]). Breaking in with a cheap fax machine and run of the mill MP3 player, how sophisticated could it be? Inquiring minds want to know if Jack will still have a job if he gets out of this mess.

For a third, for an apparently sedentary executive, a guy with no visible source of exercise, Jack is full of vibrant energy at the end. Itís hard to believe he could last very long in a fight with Cox, who appears to be half his age and bigger.

But who cares? This is a movie and I liked it, as did my guest.

February 10, 2006