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'FIREWALL' GIVES FORD GOOD REASON TO LOOK CONCERNED.

Byline: Glenn Whipp Film Critic

THE BY-THE-NUMBERS thriller ``Firewall'' could be viewed as Harrison Ford's way of showing us that he's still spry enough to do the heavy lifting that a fourth ``Indiana Jones'' movie would require. But in the wake of this, yet another clunker on the late-career resume, there's less doubt about Ford's physicality than his willingness to challenge himself with sharp, contemporary material.

In ``Firewall,'' Ford does two things: He looks concerned. And then he looks determined. Admittedly, he has spent a good three decades honing those expressions. They're chiseled into his face. So why would he want to trot out those worry lines again? Beats me. Watching him go through the motions here, he looks as bored as we are by the whole thing.

Ford plays the decent Jack Stanfield, a computer security specialist targeted by a brainy, British goon (Paul Bettany, slumming) looking for a big payday. Said goon and his band of not-so-merry men take Jack, his wife (Virginia Madsen, hopefully getting paid well) and two children hostage, demanding that Jack hack into his bank's computer system and transfer millions into an offshore account.

What follows is supposed to be a gripping game of cat-and-mouse between hero and villain, but director Richard Loncraine (``Wimbledon'') and first-time writer Joe Forte are only fitfully successful in ratcheting up the tension. Part of this is endemic to the story - shots of people typing on a computer don't exactly get the heart pumping - and part is due to a fundamental absence of character development. The family dog has more lines in the movie than Madsen.

But then, the pooch plays a huge role in the film's loopy climax, where ``Firewall'' collapses under the weight of the filmmakers' overwrought earnestness and Alexandre Desplat's ear-splitting score and morphs into one of those cheesy movies that are so bad they're almost good. Almost.

Glenn Whipp, (818) 713-3672

glenn.whipp(at)dailynews.com

FIREWALL - Two stars

(PG-13: intense sequences of violence)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Virginia Madsen.

Director: Richard Loncraine.

Running time: 1 hr. 45 min.

Playing: In wide release.

In a nutshell: Harrison Ford goes through the motions in this by-the-numbers, under-siege thriller.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 10, 2006
Words:363
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