Starring: Josh Duhamel, Rosario Dawson, Bruce Willis, Vincent D’Onofrio, Julian McMahon
Running Time: 93 minutes
Extras: Behind-The-Scenes Interviews
From first-time feature director David Barrett, FIRE WITH FIRE is an old-school action flick that sadly isn’t able to reach the heights it threatens to.
Jeremy (Duhamel) is a firefighter in Long Beach, California. During a late-night trip to a store Jeremy witnesses the murders of a father and son working ther, at the hands of Hagan (D’Onofrio). When Jeremy manages to escape he is put into Witness Protection by Lieutenant Mike Cella (Willis) and sent to New Orleans where his past threatens to catch up with him.
Written by first-time scribe Tom O’Connor, FIRE WITH FIRE is, on the face of it, a simple story of revenge and redemption, but what raises the film above your run-of-the-mill picture is the strong characterisation on show. Jeremy is a central character you’re encouraged to empathise with and support, admittedly Duhamel’s delivery is wooden at times but he’s a likeable screen presence and his performance is a million miles away from the ‘shouty-shouty’ of his role in the TRANSFORMERS movies. Alongside Duhamel is a pleasing performance from Rosario Dawson as the love-interest who’s also responsible for ensuring his safety in New Orlean, and director Barrett even manages to keep Willis’s ego in check as Bruce delivers with subtlety. Holding the film together however are the villains, of which two shine: Julian McMahon (NIP TUCK) is a complex contract-killer as he seems to be working purely for ‘the man’, and questions his role in trying to kill Jeremy and those around him, whilst Vincent D’Onofrio is heartless, unsettling and terrifying as the crime boss.
As you’d expect from Barrett, stunt co-ordinator and experienced TV director, the action on show is shot brilliantly from close-quarters. The addition of tracking-shots following gunfire in one exchange is particularly enjoyable, and fortunately isn’t overused to the point of nausea.
FIRE WITH FIRE is an enjoyable but frustrating watch. With the talent on-board it is clear – as also shown in the interview here – that Barrett had other ideas as pertains the content of the film, and what we end up with is something between a TV movie and a straight-to-DVD film. There is still lots to enjoy, but oh what could have been.
Extras: 9 minutes of behind the scenes stuff which don’t say a lot.