“Every man’s got his dark side”
This is the most fitting quote to describe the exploration of Fire with Fire. My intrigue began with the film’s title, I just love that title. Nowadays most film titles have been reduced to using the name of one of the characters or including “the” in the title; it’s refreshing to have a title that encompasses the overall plot of the film. TV director and reputable stunt coordinator David Barrett takes the director seat for his first feature film (a quick IMDB search would tell you that this step was long overdue), and given the all-star cast he managed to put together, he couldn’t have picked a better film to start with.
The film stars Josh Duhamel as Jeremy Coleman, a firefighter who witnesses the brutal murder of a convenience store clerk and his son by Aryan gang leader David Hagan (Vincent D’Nofrio). Barely escaping with his life, Jeremy immediately goes to the police, specifically Lt. Mike Cella (Bruce Willis), a cop with a vendetta against Hagan for the brutal murder of his partner and his partner’s wife.
Things take a turn for the worse during the lineup identification when Hagan begins reciting all of Jeremy’s personal information, alluding that he knows that it is him behind the glass. With his life in danger, Jeremy is placed into witness protection under the guard of US Marshal Talia Durham (Rosario Dawson). Eight months later, Jeremy is just two weeks away from testifying and returning to his old life with his secret girlfriend, Talia. All his hope is destroyed after Hagan sends assassins after him. Jeremy narrowly escapes death but Talia is wounded. Realizing that not even prison will stop Hagan, Jeremy decides to bring the fight to Hagan.
In my humble opinion, this film deserved a theatrical release. I’m not saying that it would have been a blockbuster film, but I guarantee that it would have had moderate success at the box office, especially given the talent pool in this movie: Josh Duhamel, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, and Vincent D’Nofrio. I mean, those four should have been enough; however, the list goes on: 50 Cent, Vinnie Jones, Richard Schiff, even Quinton “Rampage” Jackson does a hilarious cameo. The cast is excellent; however the breakout star has to be Julian McMahon as the ice-in-his-veins assassin sent after Josh Duhamel. His character could have easily been written out after the botched assassination attempt, but he hangs around determined to finish the job, and he does it without ever seeming like he doesn’t belong there.
The film is presented in aspect ratio 2.40:1. The picture is 1080P high definition; it is an extremely clear picture and the colors complement each other well. Two examples of this are the detail of Willis’s beard where I could actually make all the follicles and the quality of the flames: the embers are sharp and crisp.
The 5.1 DTS Master Audio 5.1 works well with the overall film, though there are times when the soundtrack overwhelms the dialog and the gunshots and the punches are slightly more deafening than necessary.
There are also two additional commentary tracks, one with director David Barrett and Cinematographer Christopher Probst, the other with actors Vincent D’Nofrio, James Lesure, and Eric Winter
Behind the Scenes with Interviews (9:20): A detailed peek behind the curtain aided by interview clips from the cast and production team.
Extended Interviews with Cast and Crew: The full interviews for the entire cast; with the exception of Rosario Dawson and Bruce Willis, they are same interviews featured in the behind-the-scenes; probably easier to just watch the behind-the-scenes.
Fire with Fire Trailer (2:33): A great attention grabber if you’re watching it on YouTube, but let’s face it, if you have the DVD there’s little point to watching this.
Though I have much praise for this film, I have to confess my dissatisfaction with the film’s ending. It is extremely abrupt, and it leaves the fate of the main characters essentially in limbo without the hope of any resolution. David Barrett, thumbs up for the top-notch stunts and top-shelf cast, but you might want to work on your endings.