Review Date: February 26, 2006
Director: Richard Loncraine
Writer: Joe Forte
Producers: Armyan Bernstein, Basil Iwanyk, Jonathan Shestack
Harrison Ford as Jack
Paul Bettany as Bill
Virginia Madsen as Beth
Harrison Ford is a smart man and husband in a suit. Paul Bettany is a smarmy man and bad guy in a suit. This film features Bettany blackmailing Ford’s character to steal lots of money for him, via computers, otherwise he will kill his wife, mute daughter and goofy son. Ford begins to do so, until he realizes that the smarmy man might not live up to his end of the bargain. What ensues is a game of cat and mouse…while you watch.
A serviceable thriller that with a little more help might have been something special, but as it stands, will surely come through as a lazy Saturday night suspense job for you and your loved one to enjoy as you wash down the vinno, float in and out of the room to retrieve the snacks and ultimately, not really give too much of a shit about the memorable nature of what you’re watching on your big screen TV. I generally like thrillers of all kinds, I generally like films in which families are placed “in peril” (do this thing or your family gets whacked!) and I generally like any movie that features Harrison Ford wearing a suit and up shit’s creek, but despite registering on all of those counts, this film didn’t really try to become anything more than what it was, which is your run-of-the-mill by-the-numbers thriller starring a curmudgeon Ford in a suit. What might’ve helped matters would have been a little touch of creativity on the script end, with most every turn seen coming a mile away, and maybe even more importantly, more interference from the secondary players who are completely wasted here. Why cast people like Robert Patrick, Virginia Madsen and Robert Forster if you’re not gonna give them much to do? Patrick starts off as “something” here, but at some point, is dropped completely.
Forster’s subplot is idiotic and more of a distraction to the film, and Madsen seems to have gone directly from Oscar nominee to “actress crying during most of the picture for a paycheck”. I have nothing against these actors, of course, but the characters who they were supposed to portray, simply didn’t cut it. Ultimately this film is a two-man show, with Ford continuing his proud work as the pissed-off husband who can’t seem to catch a break, and Paul Bettany coming through as the British prick of a bad guy – a character he seems to play all too well. Unfortunately for us, Bettany’s sidekicks are also a bunch of bums, and ultimately lend even less credibility to the proceedings. So again, we’re basically left with Ford and Bettany, who play a decent game of fuck-you-chess, being predictable and none too memorable, but ultimately semi-entertaining. For example, I liked seeing Ford get tossed around like a rag-doll at his age…good shit, man! It’s nice to see an actor taking his job (and stunts) so seriously! Now if only someone can explain to me how a 65-year old computer geek can be so good at rough-housing bad guys half his age, I might actually consider raising this film’s grade a notch. Otherwise, it stays exactly where it is: in video-rental territory.
(c) 2015 Berge Garabedian