Firewall (2006)
Warner Home Video
Cast: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen, Robert Patrick
Extras: Featurettes, Theatrical Trailer

For a Harrison Ford movie, "Firewall" was surprisingly low-key when it hit theaters. A few trailers here and there but not that much, and then the film also didn't exactly set the box office on fire either. I was curious to check out the film therefore when it showed up on my doorstep as a HD-DVD and DVD combo.

Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) is the security specialist for a large bank, and his daily job is to make sure the company's software is bullet-proof and cannot be penetrated by hackers and other criminals, trying to abuse their system to get to the bank's money. One day he and his family are kidnapped. Bill Cox (Paul Bettany) has masterminded a scheme that would allow him to use Jack to get him about $100 million worth of money, but the plan backfires when Jack tells him that only a few days ago, the company removed all direct-access terminals that would have been needed to put Cox's plan in motion. Determined, he forces Jack to come up with a new way to obtain the money threatening to kill him and his family if he wouldn't. While trying to escape the kidnappers – upsetting them very much in the progress – Jack devises a new plan, but it's not without risk.

"Firewall" is not a bad film but it never lives up to the potential the material offers. The film is too formulaic in its execution and offers absolutely no surprises. In addition it lacks logic and creates hair-raising moments, like the one where Jack automagically assembles an iPod with a scan-head, complete with a fully functioning scanning software. Apart from the fact that there is no public programming interface for the iPod, writing such a piece of software takes a bit more than the hour or two that Jack spends on the whole operation. There are other cases where you just have to roll your eyes because ideas are too far fetched to remain believable and the script seems sorely uninspired. To me it completely broke the film, making it entertaining but in no way memorable or remarkable. Watch it and forget it…

The film is simply missing focus – including the title, "Firewall" – which has virtually nothing to do with the film or its premise and a attribute this to a lack of vision on the director's behalf. With a director who knows the genre and has a bit more experience setting up suspense properly, "Firewall" may have worked, but as it is, it simply fails.

Warner Home Video is presenting "Firewall" on a combo release here that contains the HD-DVD version as well as the DVD version on a single disc. The DVD transfer is crisp and looks like you would expect form a brand new movie, making it to DVD for the first time. Free of blemishes, grain or defects ,the image is stable and clear at all times. Level of definition is very good and colors are superbly rendered, making sure to get the best out of the movie's cinematography. Strong contrast and deep black levels make sure the image has good visual depth and renders solid shadows that don't break up. No edge-enhancement is evident and the compression is without artifacts.

The DVD contains 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio tracks in English, French and Spanish. The tracks are clean and clear with good dynamics. Surround usage is generally good and although the film is subtle in its surround usage due to its nature, when unleashed, the movie will bombard you with effects from all directions, making those moments all the more effective. Dialogues are well integrated and always understandable.

"Firewall" is offering up a few limited bonus materials, such as a conversation with Harrison Ford and director Richard Locraine. It is a 15-minute back-padding going on between the two which I found a little bit embarrassing to be honest, especially in the light that the film is not really that good.

In a 4-minute featurette writer Joe Forte tells us his secret to write a thriller. Well, again given the poor script of the film, you may want to take a look at this and decide to ignore his advice because harsh as it may sound, newcomer Joe Forte has yet to write a good thriller.

The extras are rounded out by the movie's trailer.

"Firewall" is not all bad but it's not great either. It is a formulaic thriller without surprises even though it is well acted by Bettany and Ford, somehow it seems superficial at all times and never really puts you on the edge of your seat. The outcome of the film is clear and so is the path how we get there. This is pretty standard fare that may warrant a rental rather than a purchase, really.