Fire With Fire (R15)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner9/03/2013

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 97 mins

The likeable cast and a decent pace ensure that Fire With Fire is never less than watchable, but the script is sloppy, the characters are painfully underwritten and the violence is misguided, while anyone coming to see this for Bruce Willis will be sorely disappointed.

What's it all about?
Directed by David Barrett, Fire With Fire stars Josh Duhamel as orphaned, single, Los Angeles fireman Jeremy Coleman, who witnesses a murder by vicious gangster Hagan (Vincent D'Onofrio) and is quickly whisked into witness protection when he agrees to testify. While in New Orleans, he falls for feisty Talia (Rosario Dawson), the US Marshal assigned to protect him, which places both of them in danger when Hagan finally tracks him down.

After surviving a violent shoot-out at the hands of Hagan's hired hitman (Julian McMahon), Jeremy realises the police are powerless to protect him and decides to take matters into his own hands, vowing to kill Hagan and any of his henchmen that get in the way. Meanwhile, LA cop Mike Cella (Bruce Willis) walks along a lot of corridors talking to Assistant District Attorney Karen Westlake (Bonnie Somerville) and does very little else.

The Good
Duhamel makes a likeable lead and he sparks decent chemistry with Dawson but he's less than convincing when it comes to dishing out violence and torture, particularly as he doesn't seem all that conflicted about it. The supporting cast, however, are something of a mixed bag: D'Onofrio is great value, chuckling away in response to threats and so on, but Vinnie Jones is hilariously awful as one of Hagan's henchmen and Willis has so little to do that you wonder why he took the role in the first place (action-wise, he throws one punch and that's it).

The Bad
To be fair, Barrett keeps the action moving at a decent pace, largely so that you don't have time to register the film's ever-increasing pile of plot problems. To that end, it appears that he's also been rather ruthless in the editing suite; McMahon's character, for example, is given a terrific introduction (staging an ambush, then ruthlessly offing his partner when he gets wounded) but then almost completely disappears from the story, popping up only briefly in the final reel.

On top of that, since this isn't quite a revenge thriller, the violence on Jeremy's part sits rather uncomfortably with what we know of his character, particularly when he starts setting fires without even checking whether the buildings are occupied. That said, it does at least hand the film its most unintentionally hilarious moments, with the various panicky henchman shouting ‘IT'S JEREMY COLEMAN!’ whenever he appears.

Worth seeing?
Fire With Fire is undeniably rubbish, thanks to a badly written script and a tendency to completely ignore its supporting characters, but it remains watchable thanks to a likeable cast, some decent pacing and some unintentional so-bad-it's-good-style laughs.

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Content updated: 22/10/2019 12:55

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