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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > Drama > Firewall (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format)

Firewall (HD-DVD/DVD Combo Format)


Picture: A-/B-     Sound: B/B-     Extras: C     Film: C



Unlike many of the other big stars of the 1980s, Harrison Ford is not totally a product of that time, but an actor who began in the 1970s and did some interesting work in that time before becoming a big star.  His continued success in the 1990s further backs this point of view, but towards the end of that decade, non-action projects like the Sabrina remake and ill-advised Six Days, Seven Nights fizzled, while the more serious Random Hearts did not add up and films that should have been bigger hits like The Devil’s Own and moderate hit What Lies beneath should have been huge home runs at the box office, but were not.  Like Clint Eastwood, the approach of going back and fourth between commercial and less commercial fare had collapsed.  After he made the impressive K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) with Director Kathryn Bigelow, he made the mistake of denouncing the film publicly and has not been able to get back on the action genre horse since.  Richard Loncrane’s Firewall (2006) is the latest attempt at a broad commercial hit, but once again, it did not fare too well.


This time, Ford plays a major computer executive at a major banking firm that is looking to keep moving up in the world with another possible merger.  He has the typical big home and happy family such pay can afford, all of who are “great” with the good wife, kids and even dog!  However, they are all being watched by some very unscrupulous individuals who plan on using Jack Stanfield (Ford) to help them steal a fortune electronically, with kidnapping being the main means to push him into doing what they want.  It also looks like he will be framed and set up to take the fall.


What could have been an interesting, intense thriller turns out in the hands of writer Joe Forte, a very predictable, formulaic work that has all the trappings of bad 1980s mall-movie cinema, with its illicit appeals to family and the phony perpetuation of suburban space as safe, untouchable and not to be violated.  That is an unfortunate corollary of another 1980s myth, the invincible Rambo male, which Ford never was.  Yet both are models the post-9/11 world has exposed as a joke and this film is built on that obsolete model.  Add Paul Bettany as the bad guy he is suddenly getting stereotyped into, years after so many previous roles with more diversity (to the point he is at the top of the list to play The Joker in the new Batman cycle of features) and it is the same old same old.  Sure, Ford is likable and the film has a good tone to it to match its semi-gloss, but the resulting film actually hurts Ford in the long run and the child-in-jeopardy bit is more obnoxious than ever.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on the standard DVD side looks better than the screwy, oddly flat, image noise-laden DVD side of the first title issued in this format, Rumor Has It…, reviewed elsewhere on this site.  Though it still has Video Black and definition limits, it is about as good as you would expect from a stand-alone DVD.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image is the best we have seen in this format to date, with great depth, detail, clarity and even color range like you have never seen on home video before.  Though a thriller, cinematographer Marco Pontecorvo, A.I.C., does this with still more than enough high quality gloss to benefit the leads that it is closer to the Classical Hollywood style of cinematography than you would expect.  It is one of the great picture demos now available to home video and HD so far.


The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 mix is better than the regular, standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the standard DVD side, with some good articulation throughout that has its moments, but this is nothing spectacular without any particularly impressive or original character to it.  Alexandre Desplat’s score is slightly above average, but again, pretty much the same thing we have heard before.  I also found it odd that such a new film was not in Dolby TrueHD, but it is a recent recording that is clear enough to match the rest of the gloss.


The only extras include a featurette on the writing (or miswriting) of the film, on camera interview with Ford & Loncraine and the original theatrical trailer.  As a standard DVD, it is only worth a look for the most curious, but in High Definition, see it now and enjoy it as one of the early great demos before it is eclipsed by other HD-DVD and Blu-ray releases.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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