The Rookie Reviews: Firewall

PLEASE NOTE: This review contains plot spoilers. You won't be surprised by anything in my synopsis, but if you have not yet seen the movie you will be made aware of some of the details of the story.

When you are powerless-- when every decision you make on your own will lead to your death or that of others-- what valid choices do you have? How can you still have free will when you are a victim? This is the question posed by Harrison Ford's new movie, "Firewall."

Jack Stanfield, a computer security expert for a bank, has designed one of the best antitheft systems to protect his bank's customers. In the midst of a merger of his bank and another, high-tech thieves kidnap Stanfield and his family, trapping them in their own home, and force him to steal $100 million from the bank. At the end of the caper, the thieves plan to kill Jack and his family to erase their trail. When Stanfield realizes this is the plan, he strikes back at the man who is told to kill him; hacks into the ringleader's offshore bank accounts to steal back the money; then goes to rescue his family.

"Firewall" is a very typical action/thriller movie. There aren't any twists. No government officials with evil motives walk in to complicate things. It is simply a movie about a bank robbery. The story grabs on with the shock value of a family being systematically stalked, kidnapped, threatened and maimed by dedicated agents in pursuit of a goal. As the lead thief says "I don't hate you. I just don't care about you."

Unfortunately, "Firewall" doesn't spend a lot of time in character development. The main character, Jack Stanfield, is the center of the whole picture, so we know enough about him to feel a great deal of sympathy for him, but we aren't given enough information or screen time with his family to really care about them. The enemies are straightforward, evil and well-prepared.

"Firewall" is easy to watch. A viewer can track the story without any problem; one event logically follows the next, with enough detail to answer background questions that might come up.

The movie deserves its PG-13 rating for a few examples of harsh language and an overall theme of violence. It would be best to see with older high school students, college students and adults.

Beneath its story, "Firewall" lets youth ministers explore persecution and our Christian response to it. All over the world, believers are still insulted, jailed, injured and killed for their faith, and evangelism is illegal in some places. For Christians living in such places, life must feel like being trapped in one's own home, surrounded by people who are looking for every opportunity to do them harm.

To discuss the movie, bring along information about the situation of Christians in Sudan, China and the Middle East. Expect a visceral reaction to the film and challenge students to think about how they can stay aware of and care for Christians who seem to have no option to practice their faith in public.

"Firewall" starring Harrison Ford. Opened in theatres February 10th, 2006.

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