In ancient times, kings would have everyone who constructed their primary defenses killed, and that was undeniably a pretty effective way of keeping anyone from discovering a backdoor entry into the castle. Obviously, things have changed a great deal since then, but it's still a fact that the biggest potential threat to any leader, company, or business is the guy who designed the security system. Crooks are well aware of this very thing, which brings us to the movie Firewall.
Harrison Ford plays Jack Stanfield, the network security chief at a medium-sized bank. After spending many years doing everything he can to protect his customers' data, he suddenly finds himself on the other side of the firewall when crooks take his wife and children hostage and demand he help them steal the bank blind by transferring a cool hundred million out of the accounts of its wealthiest customers. With his loved ones' lives on the line, he has little choice but to comply with their demands. Kept under constant surveillance and oftentimes accompanied by one of the conspirators, he has to go about his daily business, acting as if everything is fine, while trying to figure out the best way of bypassing his own security setup. Eventually, of course, he fights back, setting the stage for a rather action-packed ending.
The whole robbery plan is pretty darned elaborate. These guys would have needed to rob another bank just to be able to afford all of the equipment they put to use on this job. I definitely would have asked for more than 100 million dollars if I was the one who put the whole plan together.
Say what you will about the film's lack of originality, but I found Firewall to be a pretty exhilarating thriller. There's a lot of detail to the story, especially in terms of the way the crooks set Jack up for the fall, and the pace of the movie works well (the nagging questions I had about the plot didn't really hit me until after the film was over). As usual, Harrison Ford makes this film more successful than it would have been otherwise, but Paul Bettany does his part as well. Bettany plays Bill Cox, the brains and muscle behind the robbery plot and the only half-way interesting or well-developed character among the motley crew of criminals. Whenever Cox got frustrated or angry, he seemed to start channeling Christopher Walken, which I found rather amusing. Other than that, though, it's a serious, suspenseful film that I would rank higher than a lot of similar action films.