In "Firewall," armed home invaders make white-collar dad Harrison Ford do their bidding by seizing the thing he holds most dear: His credit rating.
Oh, yeah — there's also the minor matter of his kidnapped family, but that goes without saying, doesn't it? The family will be kidnapped, the villain will be thin and European, the foreshadowing will be painfully obvious and the tables — inevitably, triumphantly — will be turned.
It all makes for an adequately engrossing litany of workaday American heroism; tight and soulless, like the well-engineered food processor that Ford uses to cathartically bludgeon one of the villains.
As bank executive Jack Stanfield, Ford revisits the character profile that served him more or less dependably (“Air Force One,” “Patriot Games”) before he went off and made “Hollywood Homicide” (2003), a buddy-cop contraption so abysmal that the actor simply stopped working for three years.
Per tradition, Jack is stolid, duty-bound and successful. He has an attractive, much-younger architect wife (Virginia Madsen), a snotty teenage daughter (Carly Schroeder) who calls him by his first name, a plucky 10-year-old son (Jimmy Bennett) who likes to harass his sister and a stunning multimillion-dollar house on Seattle's Puget Sound.
In other words, Jack is like most of us, only with more Bill Gatesiness.
At the bank, Jack oversees systems security. But with a corporate merger looming, Jack is feeling disenchanted, so he and a fellow executive (Robert Forster) take a meeting with venture capitalist Bill Cox (Paul Bettany).
As it turns out, Cox is not the entrepreneur from Tennessee he purports to be, but — gasp! — British, and therefore a criminal mastermind. When Cox's henchmen overwhelm the Stanfield family and take them hostage in their own home, Jack has no choice but to help Cox gain access to the bank's computer network.
There's a not-so-subtle pulse of suburban paranoia coursing though "Firewall." Cox isn't just a greedy villain — in a larger sense, he's preying on the American family.
Initially, Cox's thugs gain access to the Stanfield home by casing the family's weekly "pizza night." They reprogram the home security system to trap the Stanfields, not protect them. Determined to control Jack, Cox even triggers his son's lethal peanut allergy. It's amazing he doesn't threaten to overwater the lawn.
And how does one defend against such a heartless assault on the family? Having a great secretary (Mary Lynn Rajskub) doesn't hurt. And neither does a monster helping of product placement.
Once again, Hollywood makes the point: With an iPod, a fully loaded Chrysler 300 and a top-of-the-line Osterizer, there's nothing a fading, grizzled action star can't do.
Following a three-year hiatus, Harrison Ford has three potential projects in the hopper.
“Godspeed”: Crisis-on- a-space-station actioner, co-starring Cameron Richardson (“House M.D.”). Possibly due in late 2006.
“Manhunt”: Ford leads the hunt for Lincoln's assassin as Col. Everton Conger in this historical thriller. Due in 2007.
“Indiana Jones 4”: Ford has voiced his intention to make a final “Raiders” sequel in the next two years, or never.
Did you know?
Harrison Ford is one of more than 50 Western celebrities barred from entering Chinese-controlled Tibet, according to the human rights group Campaign for Tibet. Others include Brad Pitt and Martin Scorsese. Surprisingly, Richard Gere is not on the list.
It's the great question confronting 21st-century filmmakers: How to make computer interfacing look as good on screen as, say, a speeding locomotive. Here are three of the best.
1. "The Matrix" (1999): Hacking as kung fu. We'll buy that.
2. "WarGames" (1983): Matthew Broderick almost triggers World War III. Worse still: Makes "The Producers."
3. "You've Got Mail" (1998): Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan make sweet cyber-love.