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November 30, 2009
Firewall Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
10/2/20063/12/2009Village RoadshowRichard Loncraine
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
VC-1DD5.1 640kbpsPGHarrison Ford

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Jack Stanfield with his wife and son.

From the director of Richard III and Wimbledon, Richard Loncraine, comes this Harrison Ford starring vehicle, Firewall. Bank security expert Jack Stanfield's (Ford) specialty is designing theft-proof financial computer systems that never fail. But there's a hidden vulnerability in the system he didn't account for – himself. When a ruthless criminal mastermind kidnaps his family, Jack is forced to find a flaw in his system and steal $100 million. With the lives of his wife and children at stake and under constant surveillance, he has only hours to find a loophole in the thief's own web of deceit and false identities to beat him at his own game.

Needless to say this isn't the best drama, action, or robbery movie ever put to celluloid, far from it in fact. Actually in sitting down to write this review, only a couple of days after watching the movie, I struggle to think of any real standout moments worth mentioning. If you were to ever describe a movie as 'formulaic' then this would be it. It ticks the right boxes, gets you from start to finish, but lacks any really punch or ingenuity.

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Paul Bettany is impressive as usual in Firewall.
Certainly the star of this show is Harrison Ford and yet again he puts in a solid performance of, well, Harrison Ford. This movie isn't up there with thrillers like The Fugitive but if you like Harrison Ford (as I do) then this is a watchable film.

There are plenty of other pretty impressive performances in this movie. Virginia Madsen is decent as Jack's wife Beth, Robert Patrick is solid as the head of security for the other bank, and Paul Bettany is impressive as Bill Cox who has an employment opportunity for Jack Stanfield.

I never saw this movie at cinemas despite generating interest from the trailers, and now, having watched it on Blu-Ray I'm probably glad I missed it. This is a movie for Harrison Ford fans only.

Firewall is presented on Blu-Ray with the VC-1 codec, a codec that much like MPEG-2, seems to have died off with most movie studios in recent times. Why is this one reverting back? Actually it's not as this movie was authored for Blu-Ray way back in 2006, it's just taken three years for it to be released in Australia.

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Robert Patrick, Harrison Ford and Alan Arkin.
Having said that, even three years ago this transfer could have only been described as average at best. While the film is presented at 2.35:1 at 1080p, and some scenes are quite sharp, many scenes lack a sharpness which we now associate with the high definition format while black levels are more like 'grey' levels with black crush in those few darker scenes. Certainly not helping the cause is the fact that the movie is only on a single layer BD-25 disc, and the bitrate hovers between 11Mbps and 17Mbps for the majority of the film - well below half the maximum Blu-Ray bitrate. Indeed there is also some colour banding present in the movie (have a look from 1:31:27-30 for one example).

As with most early Warner Brothers discs (this was authored for release in America in September 2006!) this movie comes to Blu-Ray with a lossy English Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 640kbps. After listening to so many movies with lossless audio it's amazing how 'average' this movie sounds with a rather flat tone. Having said that this isn't terrible either, and it certainly surpasses the pretty average 384kbps audio track on the DVD release, but this far into Blu-Ray's life we expect a little more. Still dialogue is clear, the music is atmospheric and the effects are solid enough.

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Harrison Ford using his computer skills.
Other tracks on the Firewall Blu-Ray include English Descriptive Narration which is encoded in 2 channel Dolby Digital at 192kbps, as well as French and German Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640kbps. Subtitles are provided in English, English for the Hearing Impaired, French, German and German for the Hearing Impaired. There were no issues noted with the English samples we looked at.

Firewall comes to Blu-Ray with only a couple of extras, and nothing of any real substance. Expect the following...

Firewall Decoded (15:26): A conversation with Harrison Ford and director Richard Loncraine. It's pretty interesting as they discuss making the film from the original ideas and building on the storyline, although the directors lack of knowledge of McGyver is pretty surprising!

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Virginia Madsen as Beth in Firewall.
Firewall: Writing a Thriller (3:16): Screenwriter Joe Forte discusses writing the movie in this brief featurette.

Theatrical Trailer (2:14): The theatrical trailer for the movie which is only presented in Standard Definition sadly.

Firewall is not up there with Harrison Ford's best movies, but it's not a total write off either with some entertaining moments. While it was passable when this movie first came out on Blu-Ray over three years ago it leaves something to be desired today, but is superior to the DVD release. One for Harrison Ford fans to check out, and hopefully enjoy.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.