Jack Stanfield knows a hacker when he sees one. As a veteran security specialist working for a major Seattle bank, he's accustomed to designing computer software to foil the most sophisticated of would-be online thieves. Unfortunately for him, he's never laid eyes on Bill Cox, who's been watching and studying Jack and his family for months.
After posing as a potential client, Cox pulls a gun on Jack, then "accompanies" him home where a group of Cox's accomplices have already bound and gagged Jack's wife, Beth, and their two kids. Turns out, they know everything about the family, from bank account numbers to birthdays to medical histories. But these high-tech criminals aren't after the Stanfield clan; their heist is of the virtual sort—moving a total of $100 million from thousands of bank customers' accounts into one of their own.
Jack is their go-between. His family is merely leverage.
Not only is Jack the bank's head of security, he's also the creator of a new program that makes its network completely untouchable for outside users—which means he's the one who will have to rob his own bank.
Jack is called a "family man" by his peers, and his actions validate this. He and Beth are both willing to risk their lives for the safety of their children, and they do so repeatedly. "Do whatever you can to save the children," Jack instructs his wife over the phone.
Jack exalts his wife, wondering how he wound up with such a woman. And the couple believes in each other's faithfulness, despite Cox fabricating an extramarital affair between Beth and Jack's co-worker. Beth comforts her children and reassures them that things will be OK. In a scene overtly used to underscore Jack's Average Joe uprightness, he takes issue with his bank for forcing customers to pay for its own fraud insurance.
Jack's assistant, Janet, goes the extra mile in helping her boss during his crisis. A kidnapper has a slight change of heart and shows Beth and the children some kindness. When Jack is framed for running up a gambling tab, a friend reminds him (and viewers), "Gambling's an addiction."
Jack half-mockingly calls a Christian character "Born-Again Bobby" and tells Janet (whom Bobby asks out) that the young man is more concerned about saving her soul than dating her. In fact, it seems that every time Bobby gets screen time, he's playfully used as nothing more than a Christian caricature to draw a few laughs. He's a bit geeky. And he comes across as a desperate single. He plays in a worship band and has "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" as his cell phone ringtone. 'Nuff said.
Janet bursts into a jubilant church service where worshippers raise their hands and sing about "Jesus, friend of sinners."
After refusing to take no for an answer, Bobby sarcastically asks Janet, "At what point does it become sexual harassment?" Jack and Beth share a couple of kisses.
A man gets impaled with a pick axe. Another gets run over by a car, which then blows up in spectacular fashion after smashing into a building. A climactic scuffle involves several brutal punches, kicks and body blows—and some blood. Guys also fall down stairs, get thrown through windows, are hit with car doors and have their heads and hands pummeled by various objects—which often generates dripping blood. A car crashes through a gate, and gunshots go off frequently. A man is shown in a body bag.
True to his über-villain role, Cox has no qualms about killing his own. He mercilessly shoots a mistake-prone helper in the back and does the same to a couple of other men. (Twice we see the gaping bullet wound in one of his victims.) Beth and her children are roughed up, slapped, bound and held at gunpoint, and there's a mention of breaking the young boy's knee. Cox repeatedly threatens to kill Jack's family. Jack tussles with a peer and eventually throws him to the ground. He also violently grabs Janet in an effort to silence her.
Crude or Profane Language
God's name is profaned just over a dozen times, with half of those instances coming in combination with "d--n." Jesus' name is abused close to 10 times. One f-word, a dozen s-words, a similar number of milder profanities (including some coarse terms and "a--hole") and an obscene hand gesture also taint this thriller.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Jack and a co-worker initially meet Cox at a bar, where glasses filled with spirits are ever-present. Cox tells an accomplice to get him some red wine and later asks another man for a beer.
Other Negative Elements
It's to be expected that bad guys do bad things ... but it's worth mentioning that Cox knowingly gives Jack's naive son a food he's allergic to, sending the boy into a near-death state of shock. He also rationalizes his online bank robbery by saying, "How can it be stealing if you can't touch it?"
Though he's forced by Cox to fire his assistant, Jack does so with excessive crustiness. Early on, Jack's teenage daughter comes across as sullen and rude.
Whether it's playing a lawyer, an ex-CIA agent, a doctor or a U.S. President, Harrison Ford can do the framed-white-collar-good-guy shtick in his sleep. Maybe that's why, even at 63, he's still believable as a family-loving banker caught in the web of a mastermind burglar. It's also probably why viewers will feel like they've seen Firewall before. Constructed in the same mold as The Fugitive, Air Force One, Patriot Games et al, this new action-thriller comes complete with a cold-blooded, suave Euro-baddie, a dim-witted, short-fused baddie and, of course, the "sensitive" baddie whose downfall is his sympathy for his captives. In other words, this is not Syriana.
That said, Firewall effectively milks Ford's everyman heroism down to the last drop. I found myself caring that his family's lives depended upon him cooperating with his captors. I worried that he seemingly had nowhere to turn. And—despite how predictable such endings might be—I enjoyed the fact that the good guys win and the Stanfields emerge unscathed, arm in arm, after Dad saves the day. What I didn't care for is all the foul language—particularly misuses of the Lord's name—and instances of too-graphic violence.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Harrison Ford as Jack Stanfield; Paul Bettany as Bill Cox; Virginia Madsen as Beth Stanfield; Mary Lynn Rajskub as Janet Stone; Robert Patrick as Gary Mitchell; Robert Forster as Harry Romano
Richard Loncraine ( Wimbledon)