• Anyone ever watch an episode of the Sentinel? Or MacGyver? Ever wonder what would happen if they took the plot for it and stretched it to full movie length without padding the extra time at all? Welcome to Firewall. Soon to be MST3K fodder.

    Harrison Ford plays Jack (no, not Ryan), a tech savvy superman working for a Seattle bank. His family is taken hostage by a crew run by Paul Bettany (who seems to do a spot on impersonation of Michael Des Barres throughout the film).

    The gist of it? Loot some of the richest accounts the bank has and we let you and your family go. Try to trick us and you pay the consequences.

    Bettany's planning is incredibly detailed for a villain, but where there are holes, there are chasms. The scenes play out virtually identically to more than one episode of the Sentinel, only with some of the worst pacing in cinema.

    Do not waste money on this film. Wait until it shows up on FX, or better still, a Sunday afternoon movie before a ballgame.

    I would personally be amazed if this did not make the Razzies shortlist next year. But because my girlfriend enjoyed it, I'll only just rank it below average.
  • Well, let's forget for a moment that religion enters into this show on any level. Even with Jesus as a supporting character, set around a priest, with interfaith meetings and interactions, there's truly only one way to describe this show: Disappointing.

    Aiden Quinn has stepped into a role where he is, as expected, the best thing about the show. But every step he takes is measured with the utmost care not to dwarf his cast-mates.

    The only truly good scenes are the interactions with "Buddy Christ" Garret Dillahunt, who plays the role with whimsy and ease. It seems like only then is Quinn being fed by the person occupying the screen with him.

    One needs not fear the religious undertones of the show as much as the attempt to be a modern Picket Fences. An attempt made that not only falls short, but makes the watcher wonder why exactly he watched.

    The cast is not totally without skill. Ivan Shaw as Adam is a skilled young actor with a lot of potential and, given the chance to slow his scenes down, he could excel. And Alison Pill's performance varies from scene to scene with the caliber of the actor she works with.

    But as a friend said as we watched the pilot episode in sheer disbelief... "If I gave them the money, will they stop torturing us?"
  • Cloak and Dagger was one of my favorite films as a child and continues to hold up well as time passes by. A reminder, in many ways, how much Dabney Coleman's performances marked the years 1980-1985. Henry Thomas remains in many ways one of a scant few child actors to make their mark in multiple films (something Disney has struggled with in recent years, even with the attempts to market mediocre talents like Hilary Duff and Lindsey Lohan). And in an era where role playing games of any nature were looked down on, this portrayed them in a heroic light-"Jack Flack always escapes".

    There are a number of skilled character actors who make up the supporting cast for this film, and the script continues to hold up to today's standards. In many ways, this film should act as a template for movie studios looking to craft a story for young audiences, as opposed to "Shark Boy and Lava Girl".
  • Let's pretend the preview audience wasn't populated with juveniles who wanted to see blood instead of a good story.

    Saw is a strong effort featuring an incredible ensemble cast, and Elwes' strongest work as an actor. Dimming down the "superman/british hero" side of his performances, and toning down the storybook side of his character, Elwes steals the movie away with his performance.

    To give away too much of this film would be criminal. See it during the day, so you can step out into the sunlight and appreciate it all the more. That, and it will minimize the juvenile comments or chants of "SAW! SAW! SAW!" or "BLEED YOU MUTHA-" that unfortunately seemed to come from a crowd less receptive to the work on the screen than the gimmick.
  • Eeeeeuuuugh.

    OK, let's not pander here. Bearing in mind that the original film carried with it a social significance that this version lacks, a strong effort from performers such as Richard Gere and Stanley Tucci is weighed down by the two-tone performance that Jennifer Lopez phones in. Lopez should be blocked from any further attempts to make films. This is a cold, cruel fact, and yet it seems to elude most people in Hollywood.

    Looking at the other performances in the film, Richard Gere seems to have finally rediscovered his niche in Hollywood. Following his work in "Chicago", giving a graceful man a chance to show that he can not only dance, but dance incredibly well, bodes well and seems to hearken back to the golden days of cinema. Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly, and Fred Astaire are poorly represented these days when "You Got Served" is the closest approximation we have to the Fosse legacy.

    Susan Sarandon...well, she has her fans, she has her talents, but I will never understand the idea of her being "sexy", looking to me more like the aliens in "They Live". Casting her as Gere's wife seems confusing given her own dominating screen presence; she seems through a chunk of the film to be closer to handing him his butt than wondering why he's suddenly shaking it. A talented woman miscast.

    Stanley Tucci...brilliant. If this doesn't give him at least consideration for a Golden Globe or Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, then he will be the most robbed man since Prince John.

    And then there's J-Lo. To paraphrase Bill Corbett, she wanders around either looking like she's got gas or has been slapped with a dead fish. The effects to make her skin seem lustrous instead make her look like she's about to re-enact a female-led production of "Halloween". Michael Myers-ballroom style!

    There is almost no chemistry between Lopez and Gere. He is outgoing, reaching his co-stars with a vibrancy reminiscent of his heyday in "Pretty Woman". Lopez, however, turns even being aloof into an exercise in tedium, doubtless wondering whether or not she can add a slash to her name ("...singer/dancer/actress/pro bowler...?")

    Would I recommend this film? The original version, certainly. If this version were on TV, sure. Watch for Gere and Tucci primarily. Better still to get the video out so you can, like most people, fast forward on to the better parts and get pics of her elsewhere.
  • It's hard to look at this film and not see it as a pilot for future films, or a weekly hour long series, a la "Farscape" or "Stargate". The novels by Philip Jose Farmer leave a number of script options open to pursue, and with excellent performances (particularly by Jonathan Cake, as Nero), it's difficult to not see at least one sequel in the works.

    Kevin Smith (Valdemar) left a small mark on this film, particularly with his death soon after the film was completed. His fight with Nero in the pit was one of the better "made for tv" fight sequences I've seen in a period peace.

    All in all, this comes highly recommended.
  • A tremendously amusing film, where listing Gerard Depardieu as a star, knowingly a deterrent for some, is a misnomer. Possessing a small part in the film, Depardieu is almost unnoticeable as the story continues.

    The film focuses on construction processes to "update" the city of Paris for a new industrial renaissance. The "villain", as it were, is the minister of public works, who "closes the Champs D'Elysee for blasting today", and proposed to build two skyscrapers on either side of Notre Dame. Played with a zeal for comedy is Charles Denner, and the hapless inspector Lalatte, trying so desperately to go on vacation, listing a series of disappearances (including 20 foreign tourists) as "escapades"-being young and in the city of Paris, an easy dismissal with an overbearing wife honking a car horn outside.

    The symbolism in the film is tremendous-and by the end, you certainly wish for one or two things to have improved, but overall Rondin and Gaspard (the two lead roles) are played as dreamers, idealists in an era where such things are overlooked.

    This film comes highly recommended.