It’s clear from the very first scene that there are going to be problems with Fire With Fire. Josh Duhamel’s Jeremy and his band of firefighters bask in the satisfaction of having fought a blaze and get ready to leave, with everyone around congratulating them on a job well done. However what no one seems to have noticed is that behind them the fire hasn’t actually been put out, as flames are still visible. With this sort of lack of care is apparent in the first 30 seconds, it’s little surprise the rest of the movie is far from a masterpiece.
Soon after the fire he forgot to put out, Jeremy is in a convenience store where he witnesses the evil white-supremacist crime boss David Hagen (Vincent D’Onofrio) and one of his goons (Vinnie Jones), shoot the shopkeeper and his son. Hagen is wanted for numerous crimes and is very dangerous, but as a witness to one of his crimes, Jeremy may be the only man who can put him away. The cops, led by Bruce Willis (in a fairly small role) and a Reece Witherspoon lookalike, realise the only way to keep Jeremy alive is to put him into the Witness Protection Program.
However Hagen is not a man to go down easily and soon Jeremy’s loved ones – most notably his girlfriend (Rosario Dawson) – are under threat. Jeremy decides to go rogue, leaving the program and teaming up with a gang that’s in competition with Hagen, to get armed and bring the bad guy down once and for all.
It’s a real join-the-dots plot, with a script full of painful, unbelievable dialogue and a sense that nobody really knows what they’re doing. For example, the whole idea of Jeremy being a firefighter has the potential to allow the film to go in interesting directions, but it’s only really relevant right at the beginning and then again right at the end, and even then feels like window dressing for things we’ve seen a billion times before. Duhamel lacks charm – but then he’s given nothing to work with – while the likes of Willis, Dawson, D’Onofrio and Julian McMahan might as well just keep saying ‘I’m here for the paycheck’ rather than spouting the dodgy dialogue they’re given.
I would say the same for a brief appearance by Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, but he’s actually responsible for this mess, as it’s the biggest movie yet to come from his production company. A couple of years ago Fiddy suggested the movies were where his heart is and that he wants to concentrate on that rather than music. However on this evidence, perhaps he stick to rapping.
It doesn’t help either that the lines between good and bad in Fire With Fire are so cartoonish that you half expect it to be revealed that Hagen is actually plotting the end of the world from his underwater supervillain base. The nasty people are so unpleasant they soon leave the realms of believability, doing moustache twirly things that are nasty to watch for the sake of conning the audience into thinking the film is more intense than it actually is.
At least the picture quality and audio on the Blu-ray is pretty good, although as Fire With Fire was directed by a former stunt co-ordinator and is about a fireman, you might expect the film to give your set-up more of a workout in terms of fast-paced action and explosions. There isn’t even a huge amount of that.
The only special feature is a 10-minute ‘making of’, which to be honest is more of an advert for the movie than something interesting to watch.
Overall Verdict: Despite the presence of the likes of Bruce Willis and Josh Duhamel, this is straight-to-DVD fodder that’s dumb, sometimes unpleasant and not half as exciting as it might have been.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac