Fire With Fire
dir David Barrett
scr Tom O'Connor
prd Curtis Jackson, Andrew Deane, Randall Emmett, George Furla, Richard Jackson, Matthew Rhodes
with Josh Duhamel, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D'Onofrio, Julian McMahon, Richard Schiff, Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, Vinnie Jones, Eric Winter, James Lesure, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Arie Verveen
release US 31.Aug.12, UK 8.Mar.13
12/US 1h37
Fire With Fire
Burning love: Duhamel and Dawson

willis d'onofrio jackson
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Fire With Fire The cast and production values make this just about watchable, as long as you don't think about anything that happens on-screen. Because each plot point defies even the most simplistic logic, piling improbabilities onto a story that asks us to sympathise with a murderous thug.

Jeremy (Duhamel) has nothing going for him except for his life as a L.A. fireman, so when he becomes a key witness in a murder trial against vicious gangster Hagan (D'Onofrio), he loses everything to enter witness protection. Then in New Orleans he falls for his US Marshal protector Talia (Dawson). But Hagan is determined to silence him, hiring a ruthless hitman (McMahon) to take him out. So Jeremy escapes back to California to settle the score, annoying the local detective (Willis) and stirring up lots of nastiness.

The story barrels along without even the vaguest attempt at coherence. Everyone mysteriously has information they shouldn't have, from phone numbers to top secret files, and they also have enough cash to stage each ludicrously elaborate set piece. So it's a good thing that director Barrett keeps everything moving quickly, with moments of offhanded humour to undermine the over-serious machismo.

It also helps that Duhamel is likeable as a nice guy whose life is thrown into chaos by events out of his control. When he turns into a monster, torturing and killing Hagan's men, we're clearly supposed to root for him. Other characters criticise him, but he's a man on a mission and won't stop until things reach a suitably fiery finale. With added explosions. The rest of the cast remains on the sideline: Willis coasts through his relatively lacklustre scenes. D'Onofrio chomps villainously on the scenery, as required. And Dawson may be feisty, but we know she'll probably get kidnapped by the thinly developed McMahon.

In other words, despite a few red herrings in the plot, this is a by the books revenge thriller that pushes all the usual buttons but never goes anywhere remotely original or interesting. And in the end, even though things get suitably tense, we don't doubt for a second how it will end. Which completely eliminates any actual suspense.

cert 15 themes, language, strong violence 26.Feb.13

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