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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Firewall (Blu-ray)
Firewall (Blu-ray)
Warner Bros. // PG-13 // September 5, 2006 // Region A
List Price: $34.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Brendan Surpless | posted November 3, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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What on earth has happened to actor Harrison Ford? He use to be the sure-fire go to guy for not only making tons of money but also actually making excellent films. With films like The Stars Wars Trilogy, The Indiana Jones Trilogy, and The Fugitive in his resume, it seemed to me, after viewing his latest film Firewall, that Ford doesn't want to make excellent films anymore. Instead, he would rather focus on starring in films whose plots we've seen countless times over before.

As for the actual film, Harrison Ford stars as Jack Stanfield, an online security chief for a mid-sized baking chain named Landrock Pacific Bank. One day, he is introduced to a new possible candidate in Bill Cox (Paul Bettany). We learn this turns out to be a setup. Cox and his men are holding Stanfield's wife (Virginia Madsen) and their two children hostage. In return, Cox demands that Stanfield hack into his bank's computers to transfer a fortune into Cox's offshore accounts.

Firewall, contains the type of basic plot that's nothing new. The plot has been updated with newer technology though, such as an iPod containing everything Stanfield needs to get into his bank. The first act of the film is the best part of the film as it focuses more on the expertise that Stanfield has instead of his kidnapped family at home. During this act, he uses mainframes, labtops, cell phones, fax machines, spycams and, naturally, his daughter's iPod to help prevent this transfer from occurring.

Despite Harrison Ford not acting at the level he has in the past, I still found myself enjoying his performance. I guess Hollywood must think Ford can't do high-octane thrill rides anymore because he's getting 'old'. Stanfield is cunning and never seems to lose his temper all while keeping that fierce look on his face despite knowing that his family is probably being tortured. Virginia Madsen, as his wife Beth, easily generates the necessary amount of fear and pain that a character in her type of role would need to generate. Unlike the typical character though, she is a very clever person, particularly seen in a few key moments where she figures out what to do. Last, but certainly not least, is Paul Bettany. Bettany, a British actor, is cool and sly, but in a cruel sort of way that makes you hate him. The problem I found with Bettany's character, one of the film's biggest problems in the second act, is that the audience can always figure out what is going to happen to him way before the event actually occurs, resulting in a series of predictable events.

Still, Firewall was a fun film in a certain manner. I found myself enjoying the portions toward the beginning where I was still figuring out all the characters. However, like I mentioned above, as soon as I realized that Bettany's character would be one that is very formulaic, I found myself wondering how the filmmakers didn't realize that one of their lead characters was so predictable. Add in the fact that the plot is nothing new, and you have a film that you see once and soon forget about afterwards.

Video

Presented in a 1080p, VC-1 Encoded, 2:40:1 Widescreen Aspect Ratio, Firewall, despite never looking overly amazing, still clearly looks like a high-definition film.

Comparing this to the recently released HD-DVD counterpart, the initial benefit that Firewall has on Blu-Ray is that WB released the film on a BD-25 disc versus a 15GB disc for the HD-DVD release. Now, one may immediately think that all this extra room would certainly boast a better picture than the HD-DVD counterpart right? Well, the answer is a yes and no. Yes, the film's print did look a bit cleaner, particularly in the ending rescue sequence, which boasted bright scenery and crystal clear imagery. However, no the film didn't seem like it really needed that extra room considered WB didn't really use much of it (especially in the feature area, but more on that later).

Still, Firewall doesn't really feature many areas that one would find fault in. As mentioned above, the film's print looks cleaner featuring an excellent use of colors including stark blacks and blues that catch our eyes. Now, one may find it annoying how these two colors are consistently as the constant exteriors in the film seem to always have rain (helping to assist these colors ability to shine). Detail is also nearly perfect here, despite all the darker sequences.

While this wasn't miles above the HD-DVD counterpart, I would consider this Blu-Ray release of Firewall just as good as the HD-DVD release. Another great job here Warner.

Audio

Equipped with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, encoded at 640kbps, available in either English, French or Spanish, Firewall, similar to the video, is good, but nothing overly special.

The film's dialogue is fresh, clean and clear creating a overly heavy frontal mix that is balanced while in between the action scenes. A possible fault here is that during the dialogue sequences, it felt like nothing was coming out of my speakers except the dialogue. No background noise, no subtle effects, nothing at all creating a pretty lackluster experience. However, When the action does rev up, the film's overall dynamics, from subtle sound effects like footsteps heard running through a hall that sound quiet and scary, to the bigger explosions, really do deliver creating a wide mix, which is assisted by deep bass.

Yes, the audio for Firewall does deliver when called upon. The only unfortunate part is that the when it does deliver, the next immediate sequence is dull, flat and, well, uninspiring.

Special Features

A rather disappointing amount of features on this release especially considering that Warner had an extra 10GB of room to work with.

  • Firewall Decoded: A Conversation with Harrison Ford and Richard Loncraine: This 15 minute feature sees actors Harrison Ford and Richard Loncraine speaking about the film's design and production with so devotion and heart. I guess if you're being paid millions of dollars to act, you would be really passionate about your work to.
  • Firewall: Writing a Thriller: This 34 minute feature deals with the writing process of the film. Screenwriter Joe Forte speaks to us on what it was like to write a kidnapping type film in a post-9/11 world. While the feature was fun to watch, I don't imagine myself going to back to it anytime soon.
  • Trailer: Here we get the film's Theatrical Trailer.

Closing Thoughts

Firewall, as a film, is a mixed bag for me. I found the film fun and entertaining toward the beginning. However, the film's second act is really what kills it as it turns from a cunning thriller to a predictable mess. On a technical note, this Blu-Ray releases comes packed with great picture and good, but inconsistent audio. The ultra disappointment here is the real lack of any substantial features. I can only recommend the film for a rental for this reason.

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