When firefighter Jeremy (Josh Duhamel) witnesses a violent crime, he is put into the witness protection programme to hide him from white power crime boss David Hagan (Vincent D’Onofrio). While hiding out in New Orleans, Jeremy falls for Talia (Rosario Dawson) one of the police officers working his case, and when Hagan’s gang threatens her, Jeremy takes the law into his own hands.
Fire With Fire is a baffling movie, not only are there plotholes all over the place, but it is such a standard light thriller that it is a wonder it attracted such a strong cast. That said, everyone in the film uses flip phones – not a smart phone to be seen – so it seems that this film has been sitting on the shelf for a long time.
It seems fair to say that none of the characters are properly fleshed out; at the start of the film, Josh Duhamel as Jeremy is a ladies man and not ready to settle down, but since the film needed to give him something to fight for other than himself, as soon as he meets Rosario Dawson, this all changes. Duhamel does what he can with an undefined character and, despite terrible scripting and obvious plot tropes, the audience may just find themselves rooting for him.
Rosario Dawson plays little more than a damsel in distress, and a reason for Jeremy to fight back, Bruce Willis has the old predictable plot line; cop whose partner is killed swears revenge. Vinnie Jones is little more than a loud-mouthed thug, Vincent D’Onofrio hams it up in just about every way possible and 50 Cent shows up in there as well.
The film went straight to DVD in the US and it is easy to see why; Tom O’Connor’s screenplay uses every storytelling cliché in the book, sends a character to hide in a major city and does not allow the story of the characters to be developed other than superficially. Director David Barrett made his name as a stunt co-ordinator on such cinematic gems as Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, before turning his hand to directing for TV. Fire with Fire is Barrett’s cinematic debut, and it seems the difference in run time between a TV episode and a feature film has restricted, rather than freeing the director, in terms of character development and pacing.
Fire With Fire is a standard, by the numbers thriller. While the film has a great cast and some great opportunities, it takes advantage of neither, instead falling foul of cinematic clichés.