Firewall: everyone get behind it

June 30th, 2006

What is it with Harrison Ford getting into big trouble and having to bail himself out? First "The Fugitive", now this? In a way the two stories are similar, except.. they're not really. Very decent movie, this, it has my stamp of approval. I like how the story unfolds in the beginning, when there are some unfilled gaps that make you wonder "is this guy important? should I pay attention to his name?". But Harrison does a hell of a performance too, in fact overall the acting is very good. Well, the plot is generally very good, but at the end it comes apart a bit. First of all, there's only so many different ways to make stealing money seem novel, so they try to keep you waiting for quite a while wondering what's going on, which is great. But then once the cat is out of the bag, there isn't that much mystery left. As Plan A goes awry, that's a twist I don't quite buy. A guy as well organized and well-informed as Bill Cox should know about the merger and all that it entails. Then it takes a turn for the desperate where we go from "there's no way he can save his family to", "hey, maybe there is something he can do". That lack of direction lost me a bit, it seems a bit of a filler. In fact, most of the second half does. Inevitably, people die, there's shooting and finally a long fight scene where the good guy wins. I mean that kind of thing is done to death and it's a bit disappointing to come out of a story like this. Still, the strong intro keeps it level and I still appreciate the whole.

What's fun about this production is that they got most of the technical things right. Which honestly shouldn't be too hard, just walk into the building of a big company and take some shots. They do add certain features for effect though, like the green on black Unix terminals, make them look very 80s. One mistake I noticed was when he was mounting his cdrom, he typed "mount /dev_/cdrom /mnt_/cdrom -t iso9660" (I added underscores where he used spaces, those spaces shouldn't be there). Otherwise you got nice Dell flat monitor, the Dell servers in the data center, all looks kosher. The improvised scanner he uses to read off the account numbers off a screen is actually more MacGyver than hackerish, he takes an actual scanner and connects it to an ipod, not that hi-tec.

Paul Bettany does a good job as bad guy, even though I like his smug, bright side much more than his violent, desperate side, which isn't all that convincing. I just remembered where I've seen him before, a few years ago I was made to sit through an incredibly boring tennis movie called "Wimbledon". Credit to Paul then, had I placed him right when I started watching "Firewall", I wouldn't have bought his bad guy character.

The worst thing about this movie is probably.. the title. By now, everyone knows what a firewall is and why you should have one, so playing on that common knowledge doesn't seem terribly clever considering they don't really deal with firewalls in the movie. Going by the title, you would think it plays a crucial part.

And Jack, if you didn't work for a bank all your life I wouldn't believe you could type 24-character IBAN numbers that fast without even double checking.

Oh and good job not simply reproducing "Enemy of the state".

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