Originally released in the US last year, Fire With Fire finally sees its UK theatrical release. Surely an attempt by Warner Bros. to ride the coattails of Bruce Willis’ latest Die Hard endeavour, Fire With Fire is a convoluted and action heavy mess.
Mr. John McClane himself sees little screen time, and once the film starts rolling it is clear to see why it went straight-to-video in the States. Instead the film follows everyman Jeremy Coleman (Josh Duhamel), a fireman working in the wild streets of Long Beach. It isn’t long until Coleman witnesses a racial killing at the hand of Vincent D’Onofrio’s Aryan gang. Coleman finds himself in witness protection, which is shown by a garishly bad credit sequence. flashforward 8 months and he has fallen in love with his US Marshall security, Rosario Dawson.
The debut motion picture of stuntman-cum-director, David Barret, Fire With Fire’s plot is its biggest let down. Duhamel’s character is sickly likeable, and making him a fireman just seems like an easy way to instantly make the audience empathise with him, which they won’t. He comes off as an extremely arrogant character in the opening scenes of the film. Pushed out of his comfort zone (because, ever since he can remember all he wanted to do was save lives) and oddly trained by his US marshal lover, it isn’t long till Coleman decides to go rogue and take on D’Onofrio’s David Hagan.
D’Onofrio’s character, along with Julian McMahon’s hitman, are definitely the most likeable, or should that be laughable characters, in the film. You can’t help but enjoy how they are almost caricatures of the tough seedy characters they’re supposed to be playing. Despite this, D’Onofrio gives his all to what little character development there is, playing a rather campy, almost pantomime-like villain, which is hard to say for an Aryan gang leader. Bruce Willis does grizzled as Bruce always seems to do these days. He actually did some acting in Looper, so for the next few years he’ll probably just ride off of that.
The moment Vinnie Jones appears on screen the audience is aware that the film isn’t going to turn out alright. Coupled with the fact that rapper-now-actor 50 Cent also stars it starts to get slightly pathetic. Modern day gangland films have been done a lot better in the past, and with its weak, two dimensional character’s the film really doesn’t do much for the genre.
Fire With Fire has very little going for it, a messy plot that appears to be a mishmash of ideas that have worked before, a half decent cast (minus lead Duhamel) are given little to work with surely many of them must have signed up as favours to the director. An awful script and bad character development ensure Fire With Fire is one to miss.
Overall Verdict: Besides Bruce’s appearance this film would have been lost in the ether. Go see Die Hard if you need your Willis fix.
Reviewer: Gareth Haworth