15th Mar2013

‘Fire With Fire’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Josh Duhamel, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio, Bruce Willis, 50 Cent, Julian McMahon, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Vinnie Jones | Written by Tom O’Connor | Directed by David Barrett

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The last time Bruce Willis and 50 Cent appeared in an action thriller for producers Randall Emmett and George Furla we got the god-awful Set-Up. Thankfully their latest endeavour, Fire With Fire, is an altogether more exciting prospect – a classic revenge thriller featuring one of my favourite actors, Law & Order: Criminal Intent‘s Vincent D’Onofrio, in a rare villainous role.

After witnessing the brutal murders of a convenience store-owner and his son, firefighter Jeremy Coleman (Duhamel) narrowly escapes with his life. As he is forced to testify against the crime lord, Hagan (D’Onofrio), he is placed in the witness protection program under the watch of the U.S. Marshalls. As his new identity becomes compromised Jeremy is forced to take an unexpected course of action in order to get his life back and save the lives of those he loves.

Featuring Transfomers actor Josh Duhamel (who typically stars in rom-coms outside of that big-budget franchise) as it’s lead, Fire With Fire has a massive cast, featuring some huge names – none bigger than Bruce Willis, who actually takes a backseat to the younger Duhamel. In fact the relationship between Duhamel’s character and that of Willis’ is reminiscent of the grand-daddy of action flicks, Die Hard, with Duhamel in the shoes of Willis; and Willis playing a similar character to Reginald VelJohnson’s Sgt. Powell in John McTiernan’s 80s classic.

The pair are ably supported by a cast of familiar faces including Rosario Dawson (Clerks II) as Duhamel’s love interest and the reason he goes on a revenge rampage; Vinnie Jones; Quinton “Rampage” Jackson; and  Julian McMahon, who at one point sports one of the ridiculous fake ‘taches ever! However everyone is out-classed and out-acted by Vincent D’Onofrio as the films villain Neil Hagan. D’Onofrio gives a barnstorming performance as the racist Aryan leader whose actions kick off this whole story, recalling his breakout role in Full Metal Jacket whilst adding a much (much) more sinister edge to his portrayal of a man who has no regard for life other than his own. It’s the type of villain rarely seen in these kinds action DTV action movies – a character who is so frightening, so ruthless and so intimidating that you have to question whether the hero will actually “win”. Oh, and yes, 50 Cent (pictured on the artwork for the film) does make an appearance – in what is nothing more than a two-minute cameo as a gun runner…

Given that Fire With Fire was released straight to DVD, Blu-ray and VOD in the US, you’d think that the film had to be massively flawed right? Thankfully it’s not. It is in fact a cracking thriller that features some great action sequences and an enjoyable climactic confrontation that action aficionados will see coming, but which brings the film full circle.

Fire With Fire will please all but the most-jaded action-movie lover.

****4/5

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