Firewall: Greek Pizza

Year Released: 2006
Directed by: Richard Loncraine
Starring: Harrison Ford, Paul Bettany, Jimmy Bennett, Virginia Madsen, Carly Schroeder, Mary Lyn Rajskub
(PG-13, 120 min.)

"Fury provides arms." Virgil

Nonstop action propels this high tech thriller grounded in good old-fashioned greed, cunning, and one man’s determination to protect his family. No hat or bullwhips here, but a mature Harrison Ford wields his cyber sword with as much lethal force as Indiana Jones’ legendary snap of the braided leather.

It starts slowly enough – like a pebble tossed into clam waters – a beefy collection agency thug shows up at the office to hector Jack Stanfield (Harrison Ford) for the $95,000 tab he has supposedly run up on internet gambling. An earlier snippet of someone rifling though Jack’s garbage alerts us to its cause, that peculiar wrinkle of our times, identity theft. That’s just the appetizer, of course, in this seven course dinner of paranoia for the palate, because it is not just the trash that has been rifled through, but Jack’s happy home as well.

And as unlikely as it may seem in today’s world, or at least in a cinematic depiction of such, a loving family is the core of Jack Stanfield’s life. The kids are not bratty; the worst they call each other are “stupid” and “moron”, but that’s mostly to introduce a plot device, the static generated by eight-year old Andrew’s remote controlled car. Architect wife Beth (Virginia Madsen) is beautiful and accomplished. She has designed their rectangular jewel of a house that perches above the shore of Seattle’s coastline like a modern lighthouse. Yet, her days are filled with “schlepping the kids around “ like any other soccer mom, and her main vocation, according to Beth, is taking care of her adored husband.

Oh, dear! Quite a break from your typical dysfunctional family celebrated in Hollywood, where infidelities are scheduled as regularly as visits to the shrink or retreats to rehab.

About the only wrinkle in Jack’s idyllic life is the ongoing merger of his relatively small bank with the more impersonal corporate monolith that accepts a certain percentage of fraud as the cost of doing business. Jack, whose instincts are to go after any fraudulent attempts to hack into the firewall of his bank like a bloodhound on a fresh scent, has some trouble with this calculation, We soon see this relentless drive directed in a more personal manner, when a new breed of bank robbers, virtual bandits, kidnap his family to force Jack to assist them in electronically transferring 100 million dollars into their Cayman Island accounts.

The tension in this somewhat predictable plot is maintained with subtle ironies and a moody atmosphere. Beth and the kids are not holed up in some bleak basement, blindfolded and reduced to shivering in the damp. They sleep in their own soft and luxuriant beds in their very own house. Of course, the house has been turned into a high tech spy ware fortress where their every move is monitored on screen by a small crew of avaricious geeks. And yes, Jack goes to the office daily, but he hooked up to personal spy ware sophisticated enough to impress even Q -- except that Bond was not being used to perpetrate a bank robbery. In a sense, don’t you think, this illusion of freedom is perhaps more painful that out and out imprisonment?

And all the while, the city is awash in rain, a relentless torrent that streams from gray skies enveloping everyone is in its gloom and darkness. One cannot make it from the house to the car without being turned into a sodden mess. All of Seattle is caught in its watery grasp just as Jack and his family are by the thieves who hold they at bay. (It if were any location other than Seattle, one might wonder how the crew could manage to get so many shots of a soaked city.)

Also noteworthy are the items the film does not include, such as the long list of psychological aberrations that have increasingly become the fodder of thrillers and crime drama. The innocently beautiful daughter, fourteen-year-old Sarah (Carly Schroeder), suffers no assaults from Geeks gone wild. In fact, the neurotic fantasy meter, usually in overdrive today, barely registers, except for a few pages of a girly magazine one young man looks over as the camera pauses ever so briefly on blonde Sarah. 

And speaking of overdrive, isn’t that want you have come to expect in thrillers, the obligatory car chase through crowded streets, with souped up engines and gleaming sports cars squealing past panicked pedestrians? The car Jack uses to track the robbers is not exactly that. It is his secretary’s shabby sedan, a clunker that needs a push and a popped clutch to get it going.

By the way, her car may be a clunker, but secretary Janet Stone (Mary Lynne Rajskub) certainly isn’t. She is a quick study, does not suffer fools gladly, and is shrewd enough to make Cox (Paul Bettany), the charming and collected British thief, uneasy in her presence. Lamentably, most of the other supporting roles do not have enough scripted character development to create a defining texture to distinguish Firewall from other thrillers of this type. Janet’s indefatigable beau, Born Again Bobby, as he called with gentle derision of his religious ardor, could have been developed more. The same is true with consummate actor Alan Arkin, who is reduced to a handful of lines. Even the merger subplot is an idling engine that should have made it to the track.

But Firewall is Harrison Ford’s vehicle, and he brings his considerable talent to the role of a man at the end of his tether. He is best playing “everyman,” and even in his most heroic roles cultivates an air of vulnerability and ironic detachment. The power he taps for Jack Stanfield is the boiling, impotent, ragged fury of a man on the edge of an abyss, desperately clawing for a finger hold in the sheer rocks and spongy turf.

—Kathy Borich

Film-Loving Foodie

Jack Stanfield is a family man, and one weekly ritual sacred enough for him to cut a business cocktail short is pizza night. Unfortunately, the clever crooks who have been observing every detail of jack’s life are on to this and use it to their advantage.

Without giving too much away, I will call this recipe “The Pizza that Never Came.” Being somewhat familiar with Seattle pizza parlors, or should I say, being lucky enough to know someone who led me to this delicious den of iniquity called Pegasus Pizza, I will attempt to create one of its amazing culinary creations.

I rationalized my gluttony because of the “mountain” I had climbed earlier that day. You’ll have to find your own excuse, because you won’t be able to eat a small of moderate portion of this food of the gods.

Greek Pizza

This recipe is vegetarian style, but feel free to enhance it with a meat of your choice, such as pepperoni, sausage, ham, or bacon.

The flavors of this pizza are bold, and each ingredient adds its own distinctive taste. The spinach is quickly wilted, then feta cheese, Greek olives, and fresh rosemary are sprinkled over; a little lemon zest is added to lighten the intense flavors. You can substitute chard for the spinach; just be sure it's tender and well seasoned.

Makes One 15-Inch Or Two 9-Inch Pizzas

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium-size red onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch of spinach, stems removed and leaves washed, 8 to 10 cups
  • 1 teaspoon minced lemon zest
  • Pizza Dough, ready to rollout
  • Garlic Oil
  • 6 Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1/4 pound mozzarella cheese, grated, about 1 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated, about 3 tablespoons
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Heat 2 teaspoons of the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the red onion, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few pinches of pepper; saute over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender. Add half of the garlic and saute for i minute. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in the pan. Wilt the spinach over high heat with 1/4 teaspoon salt, a few pinches of pepper, and the remaining garlic. When the spinach is wilted but still bright green, in about i minute, remove it from the pan and place it in a strainer to cool. Squeeze out the excess moisture with your hands, then coarsely chop and toss with the lemon zest.

Preheat oven to 500°F. 

Roll out the dough and place it on a lightly oiled pizza pan or well-floured wooden peel; brush with the Garlic Oil. Spread the onion on the dough, followed by the spinach. Sprinkle the olives over the spinach, follow with the crumbled feta, then add the mozzarella cheese.

Bake the pizza, in the pan or on a preheated pizza stone, for 8 to 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. 

Remove it from the oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and fresh rosemary.

Recipe Source: Food