Fire With Fire

Fire With Fire is a film that freewheels downhill, never changing gear or slamming on its brakes even though no-one cares about the passengers. And yet someone somewhere decided it was a good idea to make another action film starring Bruce Willis and 50 Cent, not to mention tarnish Rosario Dawson’s modest filmography. Stop just STOP.

Fire With Fire follows firefighter Jeremy (Duhamel) who witnesses a murder and unwittingly becomes a part of the investigation to bring down the killer, Hagan (Vincent D’Onofrio); a longtime target of police officer Mike (Willis). Jeremy enters a witness protection programme where he begins a secret relationship with Deputy Talia Durham (Dawson), who inevitably finds her life in danger after Hagan discovers her existence and whereabouts. As the police try to enforce a stricter witness programme, Jeremy instead decides to “take the law into his own hands” – HELL YEAAAH. At this point, you’ll notice the pun-tastic title being taken into account.

Fire With Fire isn’t actually that bad. It packs a few thrills and is pleasing enough to enjoy with an endless bucket of popcorn and a few toilet breaks (because you won’t miss much). It does little to restore faith in Willis after A Good Day to Die Hard, whose performance in Fire With Fire lacks commitment, interest and feeling, unmistakably hopping on the money-making machine. We can only go so far in slandering Willis’ involvement however. Fire With Fire is let down by humdrum screenwriting, failing to invest much sympathy with Willis’ character. If this were a talent contest, Dawson would be the clear winner. She may have to endure some tedious dialogue but her performance is wholehearted and believable, much more so in comparison to Duhamel.

Unfortunately, nothing about this film screams riveting nor does it generate much emotional investment in characters. In a pithy attempt to squeeze in raw emotion where it isn’t needed, Jeremy’s ‘overbearing feelings’ turn into a bit of a joke, making it hard to take him seriously – e.g. Jeremy vomits as he tortures a henchman for information because he simply cannot cope with being the bad guy. Wah wah wah. And, again, there’s a drawn-out scene where Jeremy sobs in the shower, running his hands across his face as the camera focus on the bruises and the cuts from a previous bust-up. Rather than cramming all this raw emotion down our throats, why not focus your attention on establishing some compelling action and developing the plot, Fire With Fire? Yiesh.

Nevertheless, one can’t stay mad at Josh Duhamel for too long because, well, isn’t he just so pretty and lovely? He certainly dedicates his utmost to the role, sparkling as the knight in shining armour rather than an action hero. And, if you’re wondering, 50 Cent stars in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role as a rival gang leader whom Jeremy must enlist the help of in order to take down Hagan. It’s all very mediocre, nothing to sing and dance about. Even Vinnie Jones makes a brief appearance as the badass cockney, for some inexplicable reason. This is California, Vinnie – you’re a long way from home. This appearance is too random to take much notice of – it’s as if Vinnie accidentally walked onto the set of the wrong film.

Fire With Fire generally does a good job with what it’s got and, given its small release, is a hell of a lot better than most trash masquerading as an “action thriller”. All in all, the film will satisfy a need for pace, action and a soppy love story, but don’t expect to remember much more than that after you’ve watched it.

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