Firewall: Loncraine’s Techno Thriller, Starring Harrison Ford

Harrison is particularly good at taking a scene in which he has no dialogue and reacting to it. He’s able to give shape to a scene in which, on the page, is not that fully structured. It’s remarkable. He sees moments in the pieces, peaks and troughs in each scene, and knows very skillfully how far to wind the tension.
Director Richard Loncraine

In the new techno thriller, Firewall, Harrison Ford plays Jack Stanfield, a computer security specialist who works for the Seattle-based Landrock Pacific Bank. A trusted top-ranking exec, Jack has built his career and reputation on designing the most effective anti-theft computer system in the industry, protecting the bank’s financial holdings from the constant threat of increasingly sophisticated Internet hackers with his complex network of tracers, access codes, and firewalls.

Jack’s position affords a comfortable life for him, his architect wife Beth (Virginia Madsen) and their two young children, a standard of living that includes a beautiful home in an oceanfront community outside the city. But there’s vulnerability in Jack’s system that he has not accounted for: himself.

It’s a vulnerability that one very ruthless and resourceful thief is poised to exploit. His name is Bill Cox (Paul Bettany), a man who’s been studying Jack and his family for almost a year, monitoring their online activity, listening to their calls and learning their daily routines with an arsenal of digital video recorders and parabolic microphones that tap into the most personal information.

“The idea that someone evil could attach himself to you and worm his way into your life like that both fascinates me and creeps me out,” says screenwriter Joe Forte, who poses some disturbing questions about our expectations of privacy and security. “This is a movie about vulnerability,” he adds, noting that most people never encounter this kind of extreme intrusion, so they don’t consider it a possibility. But the reality is, as uncommon as such scenario might be, “it could potentially happen to anyone.”

The Illusion of Privacy

People’s belief that their computers are secure is far from the truth. It only depends upon someone having a clear ambition, plus the expertise and energy to break into your system, as well as a compelling reason to do it. If you add to that the number of ways in which surveillance can infringe upon the intimate details of everyday life with equipment readily available on the Internet, the illusion of privacy wears thin. I think most people are safe only because they simply don’t have things the bad guys want.

On His Role

Jack Stanfield is definitely not a tough-guy character. There’s a lot of emotion involved and a lot of anxiety because even when he’s trying to cooperate the job doesn’t go smoothly. There are some very explosive moments and some dramatic fights and action sequences, but the focus is the story about a man who rises to an intimidating challenge where the game plan changes minute by minute, and who fights back with everything he has.

Favorite Characters

I like stories in which my character is in an extreme situation. I look for genuine characters in a compelling story. I don’t think of them as heroic figures, but as people who find themselves in particular circumstances and try to prevail.

Character and New Technology

In “Firewall,” as Landrock Pacific Bank is in the process of being acquired by the multinational Accuwest, vital equipment has been modified off-site, making Cox’s original scheme no longer possible. It then becomes necessary for my character to cobble together an alternate way to get into my own well-engineered security system, which is a lot more dangerous.

The Hard and the Easy Part

I became involved early in the production process and had a hand in developing the Jack Stanfield role. As an actor, the challenge is in reasoning out a course for a character and how to get that expressed. The hard part is deciding what to do. Getting in front of the camera and actually doing it, that’s the easy part, the fun part.

On Cox, his Nemesis

Having meticulously laid the groundwork for nearly a year, the attack of Cox (played by Paul Bettany) is twofold: Most dramatically, in the form of a home invasion kidnapping, and electronically, with fraudulent gambling debts racked up in Jack’s name, designed to ruin his reputation and portray him as the real bank robber long after Cox slips quietly away.

Cox’s contrived to take advantage of the fact that the bank where Jack has worked for 20 years is merging with a larger bank, and there’s a good likelihood that Jack will be eventually forced out, which creates a perfect motive for his being a thief. No one else would have the means, opportunity, and a motive this strong. Even if Jack tells the truth about what really happened, who would believe him