Old 11-05-2012, 10:49 PM
David Barrett's Fire with Fire (DVD Review)

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:



Fire with Fire (2012)

“Fire with Fire” is a direct-to-DVD action film starring such big names as Bruce Willis and Vincent D’Onofrio. Usually when something is brought directly to DVD, it’s assumed that it’s because the film is not particularly good, and for the most part that is the assessment of “Fire with Fire,” but that’s not to say that a movie as clichéd and cheesy as this is not without some entertainment value.

The story revolves around a firefighter, Jeremy (Josh Duhamel), who witnesses the murder of a convenience store worker and his son by a vicious criminal, Neil Hagan (Vincent D’Onofrio), and his henchmen. After barely escaping the incident, he is placed into witness protection and flown to New Orleans where he waits to testify at Hagan’s trial. While there, he begins a relationship with one of the marshals, Talia (Rosario Dawson), protecting him. However, it’s not long before Hagan’s people find him and attempt to take his life.

Miraculously, Jeremy survives and is about to be relocated when he gets a call from Hagan, who threatens to kill his friends and loved ones should he testify. Deciding that it’s going to be either him or Hagan, Jeremy escapes his protectors and begins a vigilante mission to find Hagan and stop him before anything happens to the people he holds most dear.

If you go into this movie not setting the bar too high, there is a chance that you could have some fun with it. The story here is indeed as clichéd as could possibly be, but at the very least it starts off well. The scene where Jeremy witnesses the murders is competently done and works well thanks to a campy villainous performance from D’Onofrio, whom you may remember from such films as “Full Metal Jacket” and “The Cell.”

However, once it gets into the second half where Jeremy begins his vigilante mission, the film takes a pretty steep nosedive into random action scenes, killings, and beatings. This is also where the film begins to feel a bit stretched out, which is not something that should happen for a film that is only about 90 minutes.

The film culminates in a big, fiery, nonsensical climax that comes off as humorous at times, particularly near its conclusion. There are plotpoints that will leave you scratching your head, but at least you get a good laugh in the process. Suffice it to say, it ends exactly how you think it ends, regardless of how well the writers are able to bring it to that point.

Looking at the DVD itself, the film is presented in a 2.40:1 widescreen transfer. The picture is very crisp and clear, particularly for a DVD. Likewise, the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is loud and clear, allowing for every little noise to be heard without difficulty. Not really a whole lot to complain about in these departments.

Now we come to the surprising part of the DVD: the special features. For a film that was deemed not worthy of a theatrical release, it was rather shocking to find a decent set of extras. Included on the disc are two commentaries (one with the director and cinematographer, the other with some of the actors), a behind the scenes featurette with interviews, and extended interviews with the cast and crew.

Starting off with the commentaries, a sampling of the first one featuring the director and cinematographer showed that they have some interesting things to say about how certain scenes were shot and what they were going for while making the film. However, the commentary featuring the actors came off as though they didn’t really have much to say about anything.

The featurette features some quick behind the scenes footage with snippets of interviews. However, this is rather pointless to watch because the extended interviews feature all these snippets and more. With around 90 minutes of interviews with the cast and crew, you can tell they really wanted to be thorough. The interviews themselves are pretty interesting, particularly the one with director David Barrett.

So what we end up with here is a clichéd-filled film with some entertaining aspects to it that comes with some pretty good extras for a direct-to-DVD flick. I can’t fully recommend it, but if all you’re looking for is a cheesy action film for a rainy evening, you could do far worse than this.

Movie: 5/10
Video: 8/10
Audio: 8/10
Special Features: 7/10
Overall Score: 6/10
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