The new Harrison Ford "techno-thriller" Firewall has the feel of an updated version of The Desperate Hours. Ford calls upon some aspects of his Jack Ryan and Indiana Jones characters, but never really seems at ease as jaded security specialist Jack Stanford. Even this "quintessential American hero" can't make this passable, fairly brisk entertainment anything like what he did as an everyman in The Fugitive.
Stanford works for the high-tech Seattle-based Pacific Landrock Bank often upgrading elaborate defense measures on the verge of a takeover that will complicate the premise devised in the screenplay by Joe Forte. There appears to be much preparation by master emotionless manipulator Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) in the surreptitious surveillance of Stanford's family, right down to their medical backgrounds. There is some pull early on for identity theft when Jack is visited by a creditor for "gambling debts."
Cox and his minions will move in against the terrorized family having Jack do the "inside work" for them to pilfer upwards of $100 million from the bank's assets not really inside reinforced concrete vaults. The trailers allude to how Jack will go about rectifying the hostage situation. So, the formula alternates from the danger experienced by the family and performing the heist of the loot in virtual space.
An iPod proves necessary to accomplish this risky task nearly an hour into the proceedings. Robert Patrick plays Jack's new boss who isn't happy about the security his officer is providing. Virginia Madsen (Sideways) is Jack's architect wife Beth trying to turn Cox's thugs against one another.
Bettany tries to do a slick Euro-villain, but has little dimension to his character and other supporting players like Mary Lynn Rajskub and Alan Arkin, as Jack's gabby, sarcastic assistant and bank manager respectively, aren't able to spice things up enough.
The production, with Vancouver doubling for Seattle in conditions of light and heavy rain, would fit the noir-ish mood established by director Richard Loncraine (Wimbledon). The sonorous, overwrought score by Alexandre Desplat (Birth) sublimated with jingly television background ads and programs won't distract the viewer from an improbably hokey last reel, with the family dog a significant player
Firewall gives Ford some edgy moments that may offset the binary codes seen during the electronic subterfuge during the Stansfield imprisonment which will have many of his devotees sensitive to his escalating discomfort. But, this thriller doesn't work compellingly off of fear and safety for one's wife or family as depicted in What Lies Beneath, or even the forgotten Frantic, directed by Roman Polanski. Regretfully, the iconic actor's honest emotion is susceptible to an impervious wall of filmmaking and storytelling where there are no loopholes.