When leading men reach a certain age, good scripts become as scarce as natural body parts on Rodeo Drive. Not sure if they can still carry the box office, studios offer aging icons only those roles the public is used to seeing them in, even when such casting stretches the bounds of reality (think 57-year-old Ford romancing 29-year-old Anne Heche in the abominable Six Days, Seven Nights).
Audiences know Ford for two kinds of roles: sarcastic but sexy heroes (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) and silent but sexy heroes (The Fugitive and all those Jack Ryan films). Accordingly, in the last 15 years, he has only veered from this formula two or three times, and even then, those films are not too far from his well-beaten path. What's worse, none display even a hint of self-deprecation or humor about the on-screen persona he has built.
Jack Nicholson, on the other hand, has acted in every genre from the silly (Anger Management) to the serious (Hoffa). He has played parts wherein he pokes fun at his reputation as an aging lothario (Something’s Got to Give) and parts that have him actually playing his age (About Schmidt), something Ford has yet to attempt since qualifying for senior citizen discounts.
Nicholson is even willing to take a back seat to a younger, easier-on-the-eyes actor when the part is meaty enough (A Few Good Men).
Granted, Ford probably hasn’t been offered the variety of jobs that Nicholson has, but that is no reason to accept a role every time some casting agent says she wants a “Harrison Ford-type.”
There’s nothing terribly wrong with Firewall, Ford’s latest stab at his old glory, but there’s nothing terribly right with it either. It’s the same ho-hum, serviceable thriller we’ve come to expect from him, only now his once grave voice has turned to gravel and his glower has become grumpiness.
Once again, he plays a man named Jack (is it just me, or is there an inordinate number of Jacks gracing screens big and small these days?) And again some very bad men are threatening his family, only this time he works for a bank instead of the government.
As the security chief for a chain of Seattle-based banks, Jack is uniquely positioned to hack into the bank’s computer system and wire transfer $100 million to an off-shore account in the Cayman Islands. Or at least that’s what a group of high tech thugs figure when they take Jack’s family hostage and use them as leverage to get him to complete the said bit of thievery.
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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